GUIZERIX: Thoughtful discussion led to Warren County Supervisors’ mask mandate

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2021

We’re back to wearing face masks again in Warren County, a decision many in the community disagree with and which was met with much confusion.

However, the discussion leading up to the Board of Supervisors’ decision was thoughtful, fact-based and collaborative. The board made every effort to gather as much information as they could before imposing more COVID-19 restrictions.

I’ve covered the Warren County Board of Supervisors since May when the CDC announced that those who were vaccinated for COVID-19 would not have to wear facemasks. As the Delta variant emerged, and as our vaccine percentage continued to sit comfortably in the 30th percentile, the supervisors began discussions early about what they should do, how it impacts the county’s workforce and whether or not it was necessary to implement the use of masks again.

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From the perspective of a reporter with the privilege of sitting in on these discussions, it’s safe to say Monday’s mask mandate was the product of weeks of debating.

It’s been impressive to watch our supervisors and county officials converse about this latest wave of the pandemic — one might be surprised to know they’re not all in agreement on the efficacy of masks or whether vaccines should be required for employees.

However, at least in formal meetings, the conversation has remained civil and professional. Each supervisor has brought forth their concerns based on verified research, personal experience or feedback from county employees and their constituents.

Some board members, like District 1 Supervisor Ed Herring, expressed concerns about a mask mandate’s efficacy. Others, like District 5 Supervisor Kelle Barfield, took it upon themselves to draft a plan to reinstate masks and address coronavirus vaccines at the county level. District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson brought her personal experience battling COVID-19 to the table.

While I, like many people, am disappointed that we’re to the point where masks are required again, I find comfort in knowing our county leadership is taking the time to really hash out the difficult decisions. It’s not easy to make unpopular choices, but the Board of Supervisors is working hard to ensure the choices they make regarding COVID policies are well-thought-out.

As this pandemic gets uglier, and as the public grows wearier of its burdens, we need to salute our elected officials who make the tough choices day in and day out.