LOGAN — The Harrison County Board of Supervisors recently discussed implementing a mask mandate county-wide as positive cases continue to be on the rise.
But that mandate would go into effect after the necessary steps were taken, which are drafting up a copy of the mandate and having it approved by Harrison County Home & Public Health (HCH&PH).
Once that happens, then the mandate would be published in local papers and a hearing would be held to allow the public to go and voice their concerns and ask questions about it.
The wording of the mandate would include that masks would be required at all indoor public places such as libraries and places of business.
At the Board of Supervisors meeting October 15, Christy Jackson, a local healthy physician and vice chairperson of the Harrison County Board of Public Health, said the Board of Health recently voted unanimously to ask that Jackson and Brad Brake, administrator of HCH&PH, take this request to the Board of Supervisors.
Others at the meeting included all the department heads for the county offices as well as a couple deputies from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and one member of the public.
One of the main reasons for the request is the rising numbers and overall percent of positivity rate, which currently, is at 25 and a half percent in Harrison County.
“We are on a significant upward trend that is frightening,” Jackson told the Supervisors. “So this is a very, very serious and concerning situation.”
Jackson also noted several other factors as the reason for the Board of Health’s decision to request this mandate including the rising number of deaths in Harrison County as well as the County now being number one in the state for that overall percent of positivity rate.
Also, with flu season, Jackson said this could mean an influx of more people to hospitals meaning even fewer beds will be available at them.
Cases of the flu could arise as soon as immediately, she commented.
“I am already actively testing people with fevers and things like that,” she said. “We don’t assume every fever is COVID, so we are actively testing for influenza as we speak. So we could have flu cases as recently as tomorrow or today.”
For the Board of Public Health, then, they believe a mask mandate could really help the current situation.
As for knowing whether the mandate is working, when asked by Supervisor Tony Smith, Jackson said it would take at least a couple of weeks to really find out.
“So we need to put at least a 30-day timeframe on this and relook at it in 30 days,” she informed the Supervisors.
Jackson added that the Supervisors will likely have to reinstitute the mandate when that time has passed, but this is a good start.
And she added that she has no problem relooking at the situation every 30 days as needed.
A concern was brought up toward the end of the discussion about those who are unable to wear a mask due to a health condition.
For those individuals, Jackson said they simply need to carry a note from their physician stating that they cannot wear a mask for that reason. Saying this does not divulge any private information about the person or their condition and will be sufficient for any individual who is questioned.
Another question brought up was how the mandate would be enforced.
For that, the Supervisors, health professionals and others will verbally ask people to comply with the mandate.
Jackson said she isn't out to get people fined or penalized in some way for not wearing a mask. However, she strongly urges the public comply because doing so will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
County Attorney Jennifer Mumm said she would work on a draft of the mandate and get it to HCH&PH likely by Monday, October 19.
From that point, the process can move forward. But that will be the first step.
All three members of the Board of Supervisors stated that they support the mandate. The discussion lasted around 35 minutes.