Don’t Take Coronavirus Lightly, West Virginia

The coronavirus has finally taken root in the Mountain State. Not two weeks ago the state had no confirmed cases. As of this writing there are now 113. So much for all the joking social memes about the virus not being able to afford the Turnpike tolls, or thinking West Virginia was part of Virginia and thus probably lost somewhere around Roanoke.

Governor Jim Justice announced a stay-at-home order for the entire state, effective at 8pm on March 24. In a nutshell, unless you have a genuinely pressing reason to leave home, you probably shouldn’t.

The governor had barely finished his speech when social media erupted with howls of protest from those who think the order infringes on their rights. Such beliefs are stupid and dangerous. It’s time for residents to get real about COVID-19… unfortunately, too many of us still seem willing to shrug off the potential danger to the state’s population.

Justice’s order is actually far, far from being a total lockdown. The list of exempt businesses goes on for page after page. Travel for food, supplies and medical care is allowed. People can still engage in outdoor activities as long as it’s not in groups.

But for some stubborn West Virginians these steps are a draconian overreach by the state government and are therefore to be ignored. Churchgoers still congregate in large groups — yes, churches are exempt from the order (which is totally stupid), but common sense should prevail. Crowds choke grocery stores. Parks are full of people gathered to observe birthdays or other special events.

Please don’t be dismissive of this thing. The rate of spread is alarming. A substantial portion of the state’s population is at risk due to age and overall poor health. There are under 6000 hospital beds available and most of them are already occupied.

Practice common sense by maintaining social distancing, washing your hands frequently, and covering your cough. West Virginia gets enough negative press as it is… we don’t need to read headlines proclaiming it yet another hot spot for the deadly pandemic now sweeping our country.

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