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Health & Science

Justice Ends Mask Mandate For Fully Vaccinated West Virginians

Health officials say handmade cloth face masks like these can help limit the spread of COVID-19 from the wearer to others.
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Gov. Jim Justice has signed an executive order today ending the statewide mask mandate for fully vaccinated West Virginians.

This comes after guidance from federal health officials Thursday saying Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can leave their face coverings at home.

But Justice says those who remain unvaccinated still have to wear their face masks until June 20th, or West Virginia Day, when the governor originally planned to get rid of masks all together.

The governor hopes the ultimatum will encourage more people to sign up for their coronavirus vaccine.

“For those that have not been vaccinated, for crying out loud if you don’t like the masks, go get vaccinated,” he said at a Friday press briefing.

However, a business or employer can still mandate that everyone -- vaccinated or not -- wear their masks. The state Department of Education says it’s keeping masks until June 20th.

And everyone still has to mask up at health facilities and while taking public transit or commercial flights.

Justice delighted in the Centers for Disease Control’s new guidelines, but he values the role the mask mandate has played in the state for over a year.

“It served its purpose and what a purpose it has served. It saved so many lives,” he said.

So far, 46 percent of West Virginians have gotten at least one dose, and 39 percent are fully vaccinated.

Everyone older than 12 can now sign up for their COVID-19 vaccine, following a go-ahead from the CDC this week. The state Dept. of Education and local health departments say they are ready to vaccinate middle and high school students who have permission from their parents beginning this weekend.


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