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Gov. Justice Urges Safety Ahead of Fourth of July Weekend, Discusses Potential Need for Mask Requirements

CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials yesterday for his daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response.

With a resurgence of COVID-19 cases being seen in other states across the country in recent days, Gov. Justice urged all West Virginians to remain on high alert and to be prepared for additional safety measures to be put in place to safeguard residents.
“The bottom line is, if we watch what’s going on in South Carolina, Texas, and Florida; this thing is exploding,” Gov. Justice said. “We are not facing a problem today in West Virginia. But as we move forward, if we don’t watch out, we’re going to have something to really contend with.
“If, God forbid, this virus comes back at us, we need to be able to stop it, and one of the ways we can stop it is by wearing masks,” Gov. Justice continued. “And so, I want everyone to know that I am very, very seriously considering that, at the beginning of next week, we may very well have to go to mandatory masks inside buildings, other than your homes, where you are not able to social distance.
“I know that this is an inconvenience, but please just think of what it will do to save us and keep us to be able to do all the things we are doing today. Think that we have one of the highest-risk populations in the country and we are a rocks throw from people that are logging all kinds of issues right now. At the end of the day, it’s my job to protect you.”
Gov. Justice added that he will consult with state health experts and members of his administration, looking at additional case numbers over the weekend before making a final decision.
“If we look at our numbers next week and we’re still in good shape, things may change,” Gov. Justice said. “Believe me, the last thing on Earth I’m going to do is pull the trigger until I know that it’s the right thing to do. But my gut tells me, if we don’t watch out in West Virginia, we’re going to be in real trouble.”
Gov. Justice went on to discuss the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, strongly warning West Virginians against participating in risky behavior during their holiday celebrations.
“The Fourth of July – Independence Day – it’s an incredible holiday,” Gov. Justice said. “But you’ve got to be careful, West Virginia.”
The Governor urged residents to wear a mask whenever in groups and warned high-risk individuals to avoid large crowds as much as possible. Gov. Justice is also recommending that those traveling out-of-state self-monitor and get tested upon returning to West Virginia. 
“We’re going to absolutely be that beacon of hope in this country,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re absolutely going to be the miracle.”

Also on Thursday, Gov. Justice congratulated the 80 graduates of the West Virginia National Guard Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy’s Class 54, who completed their training despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All of us should be so proud of them,” Gov. Justice said. “Just like our high school seniors, they had to deal with training virtually, they were given all kinds of challenges from the standpoint of this pandemic.
“This graduation is special,” Gov. Justice continued. “It’s a testament to the great leadership within our National Guard. Whether these kids’ futures are in the military, the classroom, or our workforce, the Guard has put these kids on a good pathway to life. And these kids, their grit has been unbelievable. It would’ve been easy to quit when everything went haywire with this pandemic and you didn’t.
“I congratulate you in every way.”