Coronavirus Updates

Mask on or off? Changing guidance welcome news to some

Coronavirus in West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — After more than a year of being told the best thing you can do to protect yourself against the coronavirus pandemic is wearing a face covering, that guidance has suddenly changed.

The CDC announced Thursday those fully vaccinated can mostly ignore the masking rules—but businesses and local government can still impose them.

This development has left many scratching their heads and asking, ‘mask on, or mask off?’

“It’s been a long time in coming, it’s been a long year,” says Huntington resident Susie Agee.

The news continues to ripple through the community; from local business owners like Shawn Schulenberg, co-owner of Nomada Bakery in Huntington:

“I’m actually O.K. with the masks going away if that’s what the science says, but I wish that the messaging had been a little bit better to the public. I think its going to feed into the public fighting we’re having in the ‘mask battles,'” Schulenberg says

To local religious organizations:

“We have announced to our congregation that they be can mask-less in worship and in fellowship if they’re vaccinated,” says Tim Dixon, a senior pastor at Grace Christian Fellowship in Huntington.

To everyone in-between:

“I’m trusting them to keep us safe and if they say it’s safe then I’m going with that,” says Huntington resident Raine Klover.

But, is it safe?

“The CDC would not have made this recommendation if they didn’t have data to support it being made,” says Dr. Michael Kilkenny, the CEO and health officer of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

Kilkenny says this could signal that we’re nearly out of the woods.

“In Cabell County, for that group of people who are eligible to receive the vaccine, the majority have taken the vaccine.”

Situations like these led to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice revoking most masking rules Friday—most, not all.

“Our face covering requirement will still apply for all those that have not been vaccinated until June the 20th,” Justice says.

Most people say they’re excited about the new guidance, and hope others will do the right thing.

“I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of fudging, but I can only control myself,” Klover says.

“If they are unvaccinated and choose to be that way that’s up to them, we do still live in a free country,” Agee says.

“People feel very differently on this issue. Just be kind to each other, that’s it,” Schulenberg says.

Despite the guidance changing and the mandate in West Virginia easing, there are still many stores requiring patrons to keep their masks on.

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