West Virginians need to be more vigilant than ever in protecting themselves and others, as more and more businesses and services reopen across the state.
Movie theaters, swimming pools and casinos were allowed to open last week. This week, there’s an election and some sports activities and practices are set to resume. The reopening of tourist destinations and open-air concerts is on the horizon. Gov. Jim Justice also recently expanded the guideline for the number of people allowed in one place.
But West Virginians would do well to heed the advice of state coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh, who, on Monday, reminded everyone that, if they are going to the polls, they need to keep their distance from others and wear masks. The same goes for any extended exposure in one area or being with others in confined, indoor spaces, Marsh said.
Many businesses and churches have been reopening when it has been right for them (after the state government has allowed such openings), which makes sense. Some stores that have remained open are still strictly enforcing social distancing and public health guidelines. Others have stopped being so wary.
It’s the same with West Virginians themselves. Some continue to take the precautions recommended by public health officials and the state government, while others have decided they’re not concerned with the risk.
That’s the underlying problem with a lot of this. West Virginians have to police themselves, and the longer stay-at-home orders remained in effect, the more some people bridled against them and wanted to get out in droves as soon as possible. For some, it was a natural tendency, especially as the weather turned more summer-like. There also were those who never took the threat seriously to begin with.
There was always going to be risk involved with reopening nonessential businesses and services. With a vaccine or specific medicine for the novel coronavirus still in the distance, it’s understandable to want to restart the economy while also keeping a close eye on public health and safety. As the guidelines allow, West Virginians also should be allowed to live their lives. But that doesn’t mean an end to vigilance and health precautions.
Indeed, now is the time when West Virginians need to employ heightened awareness. There’s a palpable temptation to ease off, but that has to be resisted. People should not be living in fear, and West Virginia needs to move forward, but West Virginians still need to protect themselves and each other. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Keep each other safe.