Petition for mandating masks in public nears 1000 signatures

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – After Governor Justice announced he was still assessing the need for a mask mandate, an activist from Lewis County started a petition supporting it.

On July 2, Wilson Harvey created an online petition to tell Governor Jim Justice to mandate the wearing of masks. Since then, more than 900 people have signed the petition, with 300 signing in just the first day it was active. 

“Our focus is we really are trying to push for the mask mandate in West Virginia. We’ve seen lots of other states – Virginia, Pennsylvania, a lot of states surrounding us – enact this mandate. Because we know that masks help to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Harvey said.

Harvey says the goal of the petition is to let state leaders know that many people want masks to be mandated in public. He says many are choosing not to wear masks simply because they don’t have to, and a mandate would possibly change that.

“We just want to make sure that he’s aware that it’s something that a lot of West Virginians really do want. And they want it with a small penalty, sort of akin to a seat belt ticket, attached to it.”

Harvey and many others who have signed the petition are passionate about face masks because of their potential to save lives. Roughly 20% of West Virginians are over the age of 65 and face increased risk from COVID-19.

“The science tells us there’s a significant risk, especially for the elderly, for the immuno-compromised. And we’ve got large populations of elderly and immuno-compromised in West Virginia.” 

The science behind masks is that wearing one decreases the chance you infect another individual. If everyone wore masks in public spaces, then theoretically, the number of new cases would drop significantly. 

“Literally just wearing a piece of cloth on your face can save other lives. To me that’s a no-brainer. 

On the other side, some people say that wearing a mask should not be required because it infringes on individuals liberties. For instance, in 1905 the state of Massachusetts was mandating citizens get vaccinated against smallpox. That instance went all the way to the Supreme Court, where they agreed that governments can impose requirements on citizens if it’s for the benefit of public health. So far no rulings have been made on the federal level about the requirement to wear masks.

So far the petition on Change.org has more than 960 signatures from people across the state. The Governor will potentially announce next week if a mask mandate is coming. 

To sign or view the petition you can visit this link.