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Irresponsible: Not getting vaccinated is prolonging pandemic

Though West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has said he does not foresee reinstituting a mask mandate, he knows better than to say never. When asked in mid-July about the increase in the number of cases of the delta variant of the virus, he said “I pray to God above that we never have to consider (a mask mandate) ever again. But we’ve always got to watch.”

Since then, nonsense-fueled vaccine hesitancy combined with summer travel and a general relaxing of people’s guard on the matter has meant the needle is moving in the wrong direction.

Monday, officials said active coronavirus cases in Kanawha County doubled in a week, in an unfortunate bounce back from a 12-month low. At the end of last week, the West Virginia county alert system map made an alarming change from being nearly all green, to having 12 counties in yellow and one –Webster — in red.

Yes, red.

Monday, state coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh said these increases are “probably just the beginning” of the delta variant’s impact on the state. That is a frightening thought. All the progress we have made could be wiped out if people don’t employ a little common sense (and desire to do the right thing for the people around them) and get vaccinated; and wear a mask until they do.

Meanwhile, just because the governor does not see a mask mandate in the near future does not mean private businesses or local school districts and governments might not decide a mask requirement is necessary. As Marsh reminded us, because we cannot know who is vaccinated and who is not, the best way to reduce the spread of all the virus variants is to wear a mask in public settings.

We are at a tense point in what was supposed to be our emergence from this pandemic. Those who decide now not to get vaccinated and take precautions against spreading the virus are deciding to keep us in the grip of this monster.

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