It’s now official. Governor Jim Justice has issued a “Stay at Home” order for the Mountain State. The order, which is designed to further combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, directs all West Virginia residents to stay at home and to limit their movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.

The new rule took effect at 8 p.m. Tuesday night, and will remain in effect until further notice.

Area residents, particularly those young people who are still congregating in large groups, need to take this order seriously. Now is not the time for horseplay and youthful disobedience.

With the Stay at Home order in place, West Virginians can still:

• Go to the grocery, convenience, or warehouse store.

• Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities.

• Go to medical appointments (but check with your doctor or provider first).

• Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru.

• Care for or support a friend or family member.

• Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog, and be in nature for exercise – just keep at least six feet between you and others.

• Help someone to get necessary supplies.

However, the order states that West Virginians should not:

• Go to work unless you are providing essential services or work for an essential business as defined by the order.

• Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need.

• Maintain less than six feet of distance from others when you go out.

• Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other.

 Neighboring Virginia has not yet issued a “Stay at Home” order, but the same rules generally apply. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has already canceled school for the remainder of the school year, and has ordered the closure of certain non-essential businesses, including theaters, performing arts centers, museums, indoor entertainment centers, fitness centers, gymnasiums, beauty salons and barber shops .

Virginia also is banning gatherings of 10 people or more. This does not include gatherings that involve the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government.

All area residents — young people in particular — are expected to follow these new rules.

If we are to overcome this unprecedented threat to public health, we must all practice social distancing. And we should try to stay at home, unless it is absolutely necessary to venture out to purchase essential supplies, like food and medicine.

We must be willing to make personal sacrifices now to ensure the health of our family, friends and neighbors.

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