UPDATE: (07/14/2020 5:35 p.m.)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Morgantown City Council voted unanimously to approve an Emergency Ordinance to authorize public health measures to prevent harm to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent release.
The release stated that the following public health measures will go into effect in the City of Morgantown at midnight on July 15, 2020:
- All individuals over the age 9 and within the City of Morgantown are required to wear an adequate face covering when in confined, indoor spaces, other than when in one’s residence or when actively engaged in the consumption of food and/or beverage, and when they are not able to adequately social distance from other individuals. Violation of this article will result in a fine of no less than $25 and no more than $500.
- Any business identified by the Monongalia County Health Department to have three new cases of COVID-19 will be required to close and do a deep cleaning of the premise. The location may open following an inspection by the Health Department. Violation of this article will result in a fine of no less than $25 and no more than $500. Additional infections identified by MCHD may require longer closures or additional protections.
To curb the rapid spread of this public health threat within our community we have to all pull together. This ordinance strengthens the local application of Governor Justice’s face covering order and reinforces the Monongalia County Health Department’s three outbreak ordinance which will become effective at the same time. By reducing opportunities for community spread and outbreaks, we’ll be able to better protect public health and keep our local businesses functioning. We urge everyone to have respect for one another and work with us to get this turned around.Ron Dulaney, Jr. – Morgantown Mayor
Officials explained that the Morgantown Police Department will be responsible for enforcing the Emergency Ordinance. Any fine would be imposed by Morgantown Municipal Court if a person is convicted of a violation.
City Councilwoman Rachel Fetty said the emergency session was attended by Dr. Lee Smith, the executive director of the Monongalia County Health Department, Del. Barbara Evans Fleischauer and Del. Danielle Walker, all of whom spoke about the spike in COVID-19 cases and the dangers it posed. She said the recent spike has been largely driven by the youth who are contracting cases from bars and vacationing in hotspots around the country, like Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Fetty said she understands many citizens will react negatively to the decision, however she said she stands by her vote. She said it’s necessary because the City has learned that it cannot rely on citizens wearing a mask without potential consequences. Plus, she added, there have been many concerns from her constituents about public safety.
I’ve heard from many of my constituents who are frankly terrified about WVU going back to class. They’re frankly terrified about sending their kids to school, they are concerned about how all of this is going to impact our lives here. And what I’m hoping the public will do, is I am hoping that they will just accept that we live in extremely difficult times and we’re facing a pandemic of extraordinary proportions and we need — we need cooperation. We desperately need it because as a public we can’t afford to pay the consequences if we don’t get the cooperation that we’re asking for.Rachel Fetty – First Ward, City Council
The mask requirement stated in Article II of the Emergency Ordinance is consistent with the Governor’s Executive Order 50-20, which was issued on July 6, 2020. Article III of the Emergency Ordinance is meant to complement a mandate issued by the Monongalia County Health Department.