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West Virginia governor changes face covering requirement

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 12:26 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has signed an executive order to modify the COVID-19 face covering requirement in the state.

The governor says West Virginia will immediately begin following the updated CDC guidance, meaning fully vaccinated West Virginians no longer have to wear a face covering.

The mask mandate will still apply to people who have not been vaccinated until June 20, when the mandate was set to be fully removed. Justice said only 36 percent of West Virginians have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and waited two weeks for immunity to develop.

“I don’t know if there is a motivator out there that could possibly be any better than this,” Justice said about the updated guidelines. “For those that have not been vaccinated, for crying out loud, if you don’t like the mask, go get vaccinated. Go get vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can and everything, to where you can share in this enjoyment, and everything that is going on as well.”

On Thursday, the CDC announced anyone that is fully vaccinated can be inside and outside without wearing a mask. Justice said any private business or school can still require you to wear a mask regardless of the new guidance.

The governor also announced the state will end all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs effective at midnight June 19. West Virginians will have access to thousands of jobs, and the governor said we need everybody back to work. This will include the additional $300 weekly payment, as well as benefits for self-employed.

Any weeks filed before June 19 that are eligible under the federal program requirement will continue to be processed.

WorkForce West Virginia says they will help 24,000 residents who are still unemployed return to their jobs.

In addition, the governor announced he is looking to give people a signing type bonus to go back to work. He is offering a $500 signing bonus that can be matched by the business wanting to give $500. An employee could get up to $1,000 if you stay on the job for at least 90 days.

This doesn’t apply to people who are currently employed or shifting jobs. Justice said more information will be released Monday about this program.

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