Back to The Journey of Health and Well-being for West Virginia and the World

Altruism in West Virginia, and the best of America

The author and columnist Tom Friedman suggested the difference in outcomes in America is not directly related to wealth or location but on the strength of community.  

Community is defined as sharing fellowship and having common interests, attitudes and goals. It comes from the Latin word communitas, meaning “shared spirit.” 

This is the secret sauce of West Virginia.  

Community. Caring. Service. 

Like the quip, “How do you know you are in West Virginia if you break down on the side of the road? Everyone stops.”  

There is a wealth of scientific and experiential observations that demonstrate that we have the power to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Many states require mask wearing, and the President, the White House, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization all recommend the wearing of masks indoors and in areas outdoors where social distancing is impossible. 

Many national businesses such as Starbucks, Target, Walmart, CVS, Kroger and others also now require masks or face coverings while patronizing their facilities.  

A woman shops with a face mask on

Remember, masks are great in the “3 C” areas: Closed indoor spaces; Crowds; and Constant contact (15 min or more) with those that do not live in the same house with you.  

The data on masks is convincing experientially. Countries that adopted mask wearing in the pandemic have a 100-fold reduction in death rates than predicted. Moreover, states with mask mandates or orders for all patrons of indoor businesses had a 12 percent reduction in COVID-19 cases on average, while those that did not had a 70 - 84 percent increase.   

We have the power today to reduce the Rt levels (rate of transmission) and block the spread of coronavirus in West Virginia and in the United States.  


Wearing face coverings when around others along with physical distancing, good hand hygiene and covering coughs and sneezes. 

This approach will reduce our Rt value under 1. As we see the Rt number (which is the average number of new people that will be infected by a single infected covid-19 positive person) go below 1, the virus is slowing its spread. 

Anything over 1 means the virus is spreading.  

West Virginia has seen its Rt number soar over the past 10 to 14 days. In April, West Virginia had the second best Rt level in the country at 0.6. In July, our state had the worst Rt level in the country. We saw our cases soar, driven by community spread in younger people.  

We are seeing the same rise throughout our country, particularly in the southern and southwestern states.  

How are we doing today? 

The sense of service, community and altruism that is hardwired into the DNA of West Virginians is starting to shine through.  

We are seeing an improvement in our Rt levels. We are also seeing a slowing of transmission in many counties.  

Well done, West Virginia.  

Keep being the beacon and protect our wonderful state.  

By working together. Wearing masks. Staying distanced. Avoiding the 3 Cs.  

Protecting yourself and all of us.  

Mountaineers. Leaders.  

Keep it up. Stronger together.  

Thank you, West Virginia.