“I am signing an Executive Order that mandates that West Virginians, age 9 or above, wear a face covering at all confined indoor places provided social distancing cannot be maintained.

If you go to work in a building I expect you to wear a mask as you enter work, and if you’re working in an area that is completely socially distanced take your mask off … if you go to a drinking fountain put your mask on. If you go into a retail business then I expect you to wear a mask.”

Gov. Jim Justice, R-WV

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says he has signed an executive order on Monday, July 6, 2020, making face coverings mandatory in all public and privately owned buildings in the state.

Justice said the executive order comes into effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday July 7, 2020.

“We have got to go to mandatory masks or face coverings, it doesn’t have to but a formal mask, but a facial covering to protect those around you,” Justice said.

Justice clarified that the requirement to wear face coverings does not apply inside residents’ homes or vehicles. Also, the requirement does not apply when consuming food or beverages inside a restaurant.

The requirement does not apply anywhere outside. However, state health leaders still strongly suggest that residents wear a face covering when outside in circumstances where proper social distance is difficult to maintain.

For children ages 2 years old through 8 years old, face coverings are not required. However, it is recommended that parents or guardians use their best judgment as to when to assist their children, ages 2 through 8, with wearing a face covering.

Justice first announced the possibility of this decision at a COVID-19 briefing Thursday, July 2, 2020.

Since the announcement, the state saw 215 new cases confirmed between 10 a.m. Saturday, July 4, and 10 a.m. Monday, July 6, 2020. The state’s 95th death related to the virus was also reported by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Sunday evening.

Some employers, including our parent company Nexstar Media, have already begun to require face coverings inside the workplace where people can’t always be socially distant.

Justice said Thursday the recent spikes in other states have him concerned about spikes of the virus within the Mountain State, especially with increased travel to areas that have become hot spots for COVID-19.

“This is some level of inconvenience if we have to do that, I get it,” Justice said Thursday. “But I’m not going to apologize for that because really and truly all I’m trying to do is help you, and if we have to do that, it’s what we’re going to do.”

Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, about Gov. Justice’s executive order requiring face coverings:

“Given the increase in COVID-19 cases, I agree with Gov. Justice’s decision to require masks or face coverings in public spaces throughout West Virginia.  Masks are most effective at helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 when they’re widely used. I’m pleased to see the Governor taking this proactive step to ensure the health and safety of all.”

Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of Kanawha-Charleston Health Department

Last week, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said slowing the spread of COVID-19 will take “serious effort” on the part of every American. Public health officials say Americans can drastically slow the spread of the virus if everyone wears a mask in public.

Last week, Goldman Sachs announced new research suggesting a national mask mandate would prevent a 5% GDP loss resulting from more COVID-19 lockdown measures. The research shows wearing masks could be a substitute for strict stay-at-home measures such as those implemented when the pandemic first reached the United States.

Republicans and members of the White House coronavirus task force have been more outspoken in recent days advocating for Americans to wear face masks in public settings as infections have surged parts of the South and West.