The County Commission, after considering extensive comments from speakers from the public opposed to masks, voted to reject the mask mandate recommended by staff. Emails and other comments from the public not in attendance were most often in favor of the mandate.
As Commissioner Peter O’Bryan indicated, “It’s not about protecting you, it’s about protecting everyone else.” He also pointed out that with smoking, at first it was considered personal choice, then science found that second hand smoke from cigarettes caused cancer in other people, so no smoking indoors in public places became the law. You are not required to wear a mask 24-7, only for the 30 minutes you are in a store. Hospital beds are being taken up by COVID-19 patients, making them unavailable to people with other life threatening illnesses. It does not appear that personal accountability has worked. Seeing it was going to be voted down, he suggested only a 60-day mandate with a fine. Some people opposed to masks would probably wear masks if they knew it was the law, which would be an improvement over where it is now.
Commissioner Joe Flescher was against the mandate because of it impact on police enforcement.
Commissioner Bob Solari said we had no discussion on means of enforcement or how to protect those exempted. “Government cannot mandate common sense.” So he was opposed to the original mask mandate proposed by staff and the revised wording proposed by Commissioner O’Bryan.
Commissioner Tim Zorc supports masks but not the mandate in its current form.
Commissioner Susan Adams, who owns a small business says the economy is important and businesses do the right things, but people are afraid to come out and patronize any businesses. Until there is a cure or vaccine, things will only get worse. The virus is just moving up the coast, medical facilities being stressed. She added that we can’t save the economy without dealing with the health of the community. She knows masks make life more difficult, but the health and safety of the public should not be political.
County Administrator Jason Brown asked the Commissioners to vote on an alternate proposal rather than just rejecting the mandate without taking some action. O’Bryan proposed a revision to current ordinance that mandates employees in businesses where masks when dealing with the public and anyone visiting County buildings, changing to a ticket offense. eliminating the social distancing clause,