Chamber adopts, promotes mask campaign

Virginia Butcher, executive president Appraisal Resource Center on 207 South Heber Street in Beckley. Displays her sign that was given to her by Michelle Rotellini, President CEO, Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber partnered with Dr. Ayne Amjad on her hashtag campaign, #Wear A Mask. Dr. Amjad asked the Chamber to help promote #Wear A Mask to keep our community safe. The Chamber will be delivering window signs for businesses with the hashtag #Wear A Mask displayed in bold purple. To receive a window sign for your business, please email Chamber@Brccc.com or call 304.252.7328.(Rick Barbero/The Register-Herald)  

As businesses prepare to open under Gov. Jim Justice's "West Virginia Strong: The Comeback" plan, Beckley Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with a local physician to urge folks to wear face masks while they are in public.

The Chamber launched its support for Dr. Ayne Amjad's hashtag campaign called #WearAMask on Thursday. The movement urges employers to encourage the use of masks and encourages consumers and local leaders to wear masks.

Members of the Chamber are delivering window signs with the hashtag #Wear A Mask displayed in bold purple. Local shoppers can expect to see those signs displayed in stores and restaurants.

"I wear a mask, because if I am shopping in a store and someone accidentally sneezes or coughs and cannot cover their mouth in time, the mask can protect me from infection," Amjad said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of cloth face mask coverings to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, which can cause the potentially fatal disease COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the closure of West Virginia businesses on March 18. Now, the economy is starting to re-open.

"We're excited to see businesses reopen," said Chamber CEO Michelle Rotellini. "It's good for our local economy.

"Returning to our jobs and daily routines is also needed to improve self-worth and general well-being," she added. "It's time to resume commerce and figure out our new normal.

"But it is also very important that we phase in, we as employers, consumers and leaders, do our part to protect our community's safety."

Amjad, a Beckley doctor who opened the first drive-through COVID-19 test site in the county, started the hashtag campaign to encourage southern West Virginians to protect others and themselves by wearing a face mask in public.

"It is a small gesture and inconvenience at a time when we know that COVID-19 is transmitted by respiratory droplets," said Amjad. "That has not changed and will not.

"There are many respiratory viruses transmitted by coughing and sneezing, and the mask is protective."

Rotellini said that it is up to each person to protect everyone else.

"It's up to all of us to protect one another," she said. "That's why the Chamber decided to promote Dr. Ayne Amjad's hashtag 'Wear a Mask' campaign

"We felt it was a good message, proven to protect one another from the spread of COVID-19 as we all begin to get out and about in the community."

Beckley At-large Councilwoman Sherrie Hunter acknowledged Thursday that it can be uncomfortable to wear the masks, but she asked the public to wear a mask in order to protect the public.

"We want to make sure we're not contributing to someone else's illness," she said. "I don't think we can be too safe.

"We're all in this together. It isn't comfortable, but think about our medical professionals that have been on the firing line, and all of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that they have to wear," Hunter said. "Let's just do our part and do the right thing.

"It's just so important to wear the mask."

Amjad, who asked the Chamber to support the movement, urged mask-wearers to be kind to those who are not wearing masks. 

Some local asthma sufferers have reported that wearing masks for longer periods diminishes their oxygen levels. When others wear a mask, they reduce the chance that they will spread COVID-19 to those who are not wearing masks.

Merchants who want a window sign for a business may email a request to Chamber@Brccc.com or call 304.252.7328.

 

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