Meck County commissioners consider mandating masks to prevent new stay-at-home order

Meck County commissioners consider mandating masks to prevent new stay-at-home order

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Several Mecklenburg County Commissioners are supportive of requiring masks within the county and asked county staff to come back with a recommendation on a mandate next week. Commissioners fear that if more people didn’t start wearing masks, coronavirus-related restrictions would start coming back into place.

Despite commissioners concerns, County Manager Dena Diorio noted that local towns would have to be supportive of the measure and Public Health Director Gibbie Harris cast doubt on whether a mask requirement is actually enforceable.

Commissioner Mark Jerrell was one of the first to voice his support for a mandate even if enforcement is difficult to impossible.

“I am in favor wholeheartedly, with an understanding that all the towns do not agree, but I’m in favor of us mandating masks," Jerrell said.

Commissioner Trevor Fuller made the motion for county staff to come back to them next week with a recommendation on a county-wide mask requirement. The commission passed the motion with member Pat Cotham dissenting based on needing the towns to also buy-in in order for the mandate to carry any meaning.

“The BOCC can not impose that requirement across the county, the city and the towns,” Diorio said.

“What we’ve found in a couple of counties that have required masks is that there’s no way to really enforce it and they’re not seeing that the requirement of mask wearing has made much difference in their communities,” Harris said.

The majority of commissioners who supported mandating masks said it was to prevent restrictions on movement and businesses from coming back into place.

“If you don’t want to turn back, you need to turn on wearing a mask,” Commissioner Susan Rodriquez-McDowell said.

“I just think somehow people are not getting the right message.”

The discussions on masks took place as the number of COIVD-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Mecklenburg County continue to rise. 133 county residents have died and there has been an average of 107 people in hospitals because of the coronavirus over the past seven days.

Harris also said that mobility numbers in the county have also climbed back to baseline levels, likely meaning that people aren’t practicing social distancing any more.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.