For months now, health and most government leaders have said that one of the most effective things we can do to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus is to wear facemasks.
The latest edition of the MetroNews West Virginia Poll finds that most of the residents of our state are taking that to heart.
The survey of 450 likely voters found that three-quarters of West Virginians (73 percent) say they always wear a facemask or face covering when in stores, restaurants or other businesses.
About 20 percent say they wear their masks most of the time or some of the time, while six percent say hardly ever or never.
Whether or not individuals wear a mask varies according to demographics.
—West Virginians 55 and older are more likely than 18 to 34 year olds to wear a face covering, 77 percent to 69 percent.
—Seventy-nine percent of college graduates are mask wearers, compared with 66 percent of individuals who have less than a high school education.
There is a political divide as well.
—Eighty-five percent of Democrats and 83 percent of independents say when going into a business or restaurant they always wear their mask, while just 56 percent of Republicans say they do. Four percent of Republicans say they never wear a mask.
—West Virginians who identify as liberals are more likely than conservatives to wear a mask—88 percent to 62 percent.
—People who live in the northern half of West Virginia are more likely to wear a mask than those who live in the south, but not by much—75 percent to 70 percent.
Our relatively consistent mask-wearing habits have helped keep the virus from getting out of hand in West Virginia.
Governor Jim Justice has pushed that behavior from the beginning of the pandemic, as has the state’s Covid-19 Czar Dr. Clay Marsh.
Marsh can easily argue the science behind the preventive behavior, but he prefers to appeal to our more altruistic side.
“We’ve always been that state that served,” Marsh said. “West Virginians have always been very community oriented—honest, hard-working, forthright people who have served, and this is another opportunity to serve.”
We pride ourselves on our willingness to help others. Everybody is tired, especially our frontline workers, but there is no silver bullet, no miracle cure, and this is no time to listen to the obstinate never-maskers.
The MetroNews West Virginia Poll shows we are doing a pretty good job at following best practices, and we will have to keep that up until, well… until we don’t have to anymore.