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Mon Commission reinstates masks, prepares emergency declaration

MORGANTOWN — If you’re headed to a county facility, bring a mask.

The Monongalia County Commission on Wednesday reinstated its mandatory mask policy as COVID-19,  now in variant form, burns its way through West Virginia and the rest of the country. 

“Masks are required by any member of the public entering any county facilities regardless of vaccination status and must be worn at all times. Updated signage will be posted at the entrance of each building,” Commission President Sean Sikora said prior to the commission commencing with Wednesday’s regular agenda items.

As for county employees, masks must be worn in common areas, but may be optional if fully vaccinated and in a workspace secluded from public areas, and only with the permission of the office holder or department supervisor. 

Sikora said the decision came after a Tuesday conference call that included all county departments as well as representatives of the courts, the board of education and the city of Morgantown. 

“I appreciate our elected officials’ and our employees’ and the public’s patience as we try to pull back a little bit and reinstate some further protections to try and work through this pandemic,” Sikora said. 

Also on Wednesday — and also before addressing its published agenda items — the commission preemptively approved a county-wide state of emergency as the remnants of Hurricane Ida roll through.

In essence, the declaration is already approved and awaiting Sikora’s signature should Jim Smith, who heads MECCA 911 and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, give the word.  

“Basically, it states that beginning Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, because of the remnants of Hurricane Ida causing a threat to health and safety due to the amount of additional rainfall, potential flooding, power outages, rock slides and road blockages as well, we are requesting this state of emergency shall stay in effect until lifted,” Commissioner Tom Bloom explained.   

“This way we can immediately begin the process and don’t have to wait several days,” he said.

Bloom said it would likely be known whether the declaration would be needed by Wednesday night, though it appeared by Wednesday afternoon that the area was largely spared the heavy rains many predicted.

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