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AG Morrisey hears complaints about vaccine, mask requirements

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 5:38 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 12:08 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The Mid-Ohio Valley Board of Health sent to the Wood County Board of Education what is stated as a “Proposed Face Covering Protocol for Wood County Schools”.

This was sent prior to the August 29 Board of Education meeting, where the board voted 3-2, to require masks for students, staff and visitors.

The proposal states masks will be “recommended” for students, staff members and visitors for all indoor activities, and for spectators at indoor extra-curricular events.

It goes on to state masks will be “required” for all students, staff and visitors while indoors or on a bus, while Wood County is “orange” or “red” on the Department of Health and Human Resources metrics map, and will remain in place until Wood County is “gold”, “yellow” or “green” on the metrics map.

This is basically identical to the proposal made by Superintendent William Hosaflook, and approved by the board of education at its August 29 meeting.

Eric Walker, Executive Director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, says the proposal was a recommendation, not a requirement. “The board of education could have voted not to require face coverings,” he told WTAP.

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Original story: 10/5/2021

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey Tuesday heard from employees of the Bureau of the Fiscal Service and WVU Medicine, both of whose employees are under requirements to be vaccinated.

Morrisey indicated he’s against mandates-he has spoke out against President Biden’s vaccine requirement for federal workers and says he and attorneys general from 24 other states are preparing to sue the federal government over what he repeatedly called a “mandate”.

But at the 90-minute town hall, he was also asked about the much-argued-about requirements about masks in schools. A member of the Mid-Ohio Valley Citizens Action Coalition asked him, “Under what authority can the board of education and the health department issue mandates in absence of a mandate from the governor?”

Morrisey replied: “The governor can stop it or allow it, and the county commission actually controls it at the local level; they can decide to override the local public health board. They can ensure that there are no mandates.”

We asked him about that after the town hall. It’s an apparent reference to Senate Bill 12, passed in the 2021 legislative session, giving county commissions more leverage over health orders.

“The law changed last year that vested authority in it,” he said. “Some county commissions have delegated their powers and some have not. Some have taken it away or made it clear they will take that final call. But it’s ultimately up to the county commission.”

The Wood County Commission has not acted on, or overturned, any health department orders. The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department recommended, and not required, masks in schools.

Morrisey was also asked about Governor Jim Justice’s state of emergency, issued at the start of the pandemic. The West Virginia Legislature last winter considered a bill that would have given it more say in how long such declarations would last.

Wood County Delegate John Kelly, who attended the town hall, said, “The House of Delegates last year passed a bill that would limit the governor’s executive powers. That bill was actually killed in the Senate; they wouldn’t take it up and they wouldn’t pass it. And I’m sure the legislature’s going to bring that bill up again.”

Morrisey, who acknowledged he had COVID, concluded the 90-minute town hall by saying there are lessons to be learned from the pandemic that should be applied ot future emergencies.

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