Gazette-Mail editorial: Unprecedented times demand unprecedented action

Alex Mooney

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.

No one in West Virginia or the rest of the United States has ever seen anything quite like what is unfolding with the coronavirus.

The tragic Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks changed the country in some fundamental ways, but only knocked most normal events off schedule by a week. To find something that so drastically affected nearly every aspect of American life, you’d have to go back to World War II, or maybe the Great Depression that preceded it.

Some are, no doubt, struggling with all the drastic measures taking place to minimize this virus. It can be hard to grapple with a problem that doesn’t have set parameters.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., for instance, was one of 40 Republicans to vote against a House bill appropriating aid as the fallout from the pandemic continues to ripple.

It was a bipartisan bill, a rarity in Congress these days, and it even has the support of the president. Mooney’s West Virginia colleagues in the House, Republicans Carol Miller and David McKinley, voted for the bill, which passed 363-40, with one representative voting “present” and 26 others not voting.

Mooney released a statement saying he had voted for an aid package earlier this month and he couldn’t vote for this one because it was written by Democrats and wasn’t given the proper debate time. This virus is expanding at alarming rates, and Mooney wants to slow down.

This isn’t some Democrat vs. Republican shell game, it’s an aid package to help the country as it braces for a virus that already has shut down schools, businesses and events across the country and in West Virginia.

While Americans might have different assessments as to how serious this pandemic is, and how much damage it will do, they should know it’s not something to blow off. It’s not a plot or a hoax. Viruses don’t care who you voted for. What’s more, a virus doesn’t care whether you live in a red or a blue state. Lines on a map mean nothing to a virus.

This virus is spreading rapidly, and numbers might be sandbagged by insufficient testing, especially in West Virginia so far. Beyond public health, this will affect the economy and how Americans live their lives. Maybe it will be only for a couple of weeks. Maybe it will be longer. West Virginians shouldn’t go against health advisories or take unnecessary risks. These precautions are in place to minimize damage. They need to be taken seriously.