FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Several communities around North Central West Virginia are facing an increase in littering that can be traced back to COVID-19.

Littering has been an issue around the area for years but specifically right now, the amount that is being found along side the highway, in ditches in neighborhoods, in store parking lots, near the river and much more is a high amount that officials haven’t encountered before.

Most trash found in the communities are PPE masks and surgical gloves, which obviously are being used as protective gear. The frequency in which citizens are disposing of this equipment, is leading to the issue of those items not finding their way into a proper trashcan.

“I live along route 250, and I mow my grass all the way up to it. I pick up trash as I go along, but never has I seen and picked up so much,” said Marion County Commissioner Randy Elliot. “My wife goes out there too almost everyday there all new stuff piling up.”

Another thing that the Commissioner Elliot discovered, was the amount of fast food bags and take out boxes all over the community.

“That particular issue, of not being able to sit down in a restaurant and eat, and compromising for being hungry to grab something quick.. there’s your bags, there’s your trash,” Elliot explained. “It puts a lot more paper out there, and a lot more containers thats ever been out there before.”

No in-house seating at restaurants is an order that the governor placed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to the large increase of take out, and drive-thru meals, which is now leading to more pile up of trash in the community.

“It’s a bad habit, and I think the people doing it are not the young people, but people who are stuck in the habit of throwing things out the window, and we, the Marion County Commission, strive to catch litterbugs,” Elliot stated. “I mean, West Virginia is known everywhere for its beauty. When you see Wendy’s and McDonald’s bags along the road, that takes that beautiful factor away from us.”

In West Virginia is against the law to litter. First offenders can face a minimum charge of $100 or a max of $2,500.

Marion county has made an effort to help this issue during the pandemic. They added a dumpster in the downtown area, as well as handed out several of their “Don’t be a Litterbug” car magnets, in the hopes to remind everyone to wait to find a trash bag.