CHARLESTON, W.Va. – On November 13, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced an update to his executive order mandating masks in the state.
Several days later, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey made a post on social media questioning the governor’s order.
The post drew a quick rebuke from Gov. Justice.
When asked about the dispute Monday, Justice gave a long quote on the situation:
“I was damn disappointed! That’s all there is to it, there’s no other way to say it. I have supported Patrick in every way I possibly can and I think its a crying shame that he may have overlooked the severity of this situation. Dividing us is basically what we’re really talking about here. That’s the last thing we need to be doing right now. It has nothing to do with our constitutional liberties, it has nothing to do with taking our guns or whatever it may be. It has one and only one thing to do with and that’s just this: If you want to just walk over a cliff yourself, well more power to you, but you can’t be doing something that could possibly cause a lot of harm to others and just do it because, per se, it’s your liberty. What is the difference between driving drunk and saying well that’s my liberty. We are a nation of laws. I’m not trying to infringe on anyone, but right now in this situation, this mask is the only thing I got. This is all I got to try to help stop this. And to just say people can do whatever they want, is not wise. It came off to me as even degrading to our police. Our police are people who know how to handle people and get along. There’s not police running through the neighborhoods throwing people in jail. You think I’d be for that? There’s no way on this planet I’d be for that. The bottom line is just as simple as mud: are going to listen to the politicians or listen to the experts? If this didn’t have politics smell all over it, then I don’t know my name. If someone came to you with leprosy and said they wanted to go downtown to the daycare center and then they wanted to walk through whatever school it may be and then walk through the Capitol and then they wanted to go to the WVU football game, you’d say that’s their right? I don’t buy that. I don’t buy that in any way. I am standing rock solid for everyone’s rights, but for crying out loud in this situation right here, I’m going to be your governor. I’m going to listen to the experts. This stuff, all it does is divide us, divide us in playing to some to political deal. I’m not going to listen to politicians. I’m not going to do it.”WV Gov. Jim Justice
Later Monday, Morrisey issued a statement of this own:
“No one is having a dispute about whether we should wear masks and take all precautions possible to stop this deadly virus. I encourage our citizens to take such precautions. Anyone suggesting otherwise is not being honest with you. As I said on Nov. 18, we should all ‘socially distance, wear coverings, keep good hygiene, minimize personal contact, and stay away from immunocompromised individuals, who may be particularly susceptible to the virus.’
“We need to both protect the public health and our constitutional rights. I believe in West Virginians and have faith that our citizens don’t need threats of jail time to convince them to do the right thing and pull together to tackle this virus. Heavy-handed threats of criminal penalties are not the way forward, especially through an executive order that the Legislature has not approved.”WV Gov. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
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