Health officials and researchers say the science is clear: face masks can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Yet in the Ohio Valley, not all elected officials are in agreement on whether to mandate measures such as the use of face masks in public places.
In April, Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine initially announced the mandatory use of face masks in retail settings, only to walk back the mandate during the next day’s press conference to say it was only a recommendation. West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice recently said that mandatory use of face masks would be impossible to enforce and would “divide us.” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, ordered face mask use in public, but people who don’t wear one won’t be fined, though businesses that require masks can turn away customers who aren’t wearing one.
Officials in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, are calling on Justice to require face mask use in the state, and other Ohio cities are passing resolutions and ordinances to require face mask use, implementing local enforcement while state authority has dithered. On Thursday, Justice warned he may mandate mask use while inside public buildings.
The renewed discussion about masks comes as the …