Monterey County Board of Supervisors to vote on indoor mask mandate

Peninsula Premier Admin

SALINAS — After a discussion and unanimous vote to move forward last week, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors will vote Wednesday to implement a countywide indoors mask mandate in response to the spike of COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant.

The urgency ordinance, which would require approval from at least four of the five supervisors, would enact an indoor face-covering requirement at 12:01 a.m. on Sept. 13 and remain in place through Nov. 11. The delay would give businesses and individuals time to prepare for the change. The mandate would require everyone in the county to wear facial coverings indoors with exemptions for when people are in their own homes, with family members, alone in a closed room or taking part in an activity where masks cannot be worn, such as eating.

The ordinance would apply to everyone regardless of vaccination status over the age of 2 but will address situations for parents of young children where the kids may have difficulty keeping masks in place. Violations of the ordinance would be processed as administrative violations.

COVID-19 cases appear to be on the decline in Monterey County after a spike earlier in the summer. The county recently became one of the only California counties to drop back down into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “substantial” community transmission level from the “high” level.

“Monterey County must stay proactive to remain ahead and not wait until we reach a ‘high’ level of COVID transmission rate before we decide to take added measures,” Supervisor Luis Alejo said in a statement to The Herald on Tuesday. “A mask mandate is what our residents have already done before and would only be temporary at a time when we are seeing spikes throughout many other counties.”

The CDC lists the county’s positivity rate at 3.72% after it pushed close to 6% last month. The seven-day case rate per 100,000 people got as high as 14.6 on Aug. 19 before dropping to 7.5 as of Sunday, according to data from the California Department of Public Health. According to the state, 31 people are currently hospitalized from COVID-19 in the county, which is down from 50 on Aug. 28.

“If this will help save lives and prevent our residents being hospitalized, it is a necessary measure to implement at this critical time,” Alejo said. “We have had 50 deaths since June 30. That’s 50 deaths too many.”

A total of 546 people have died from COVID-19 in Monterey County since the pandemic began. Three new deaths were announced Tuesday, two of which were people age 35 to 44.

According to the CDC, 79.1% of Monterey County residents 12 years of age and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 66.8% of those eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated. Children 0 to 11 years of age who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated are 17% of the Monterey County population.

“We are breaking with our health officer, that is concerning to me considering the line that we’ve followed from the beginning of this pandemic,” said Supervisor Chris Lopez at the Aug. 31 meeting. “I’m not saying I oppose this, I’m just saying that it is a point of concern for me that we’ve moved to the political realm on that end.”

When asked if he supports the mask mandate proposed by the Board of Supervisors, Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno said during the media briefing on Sept. 1 that he has already issued a mask recommendation. Moreno did not expressly state his opinion on the proposal but explained that other actions taken by the Monterey County Health Department and the state along with an increase in vaccinations have worked to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I do have an obligation as part of my authority to consider the least restrictive measure to ensure that we achieve either individually, or as a community, a desired outcome,” he said. “So the desired outcome here is decreased transmission or working toward decreasing case rates.”

In addition to the mask mandate, Alejo said Monterey County will consider a resolution declaring misinformation a public health crisis in a future meeting. The San Diego Board of Supervisors and the state Assembly recently voted to declare misinformation a public health crisis.

Contributed by local news sources

Next Post

Massachusetts high school hockey player sustains serious injuries during tournament

A Massachusetts high school hockey player is hospitalized with serious injuries following a collision during a major Labor Day weekend tournament.Jake Thibeault, an 18-year-old from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, broke two vertebrae in his back and suffered a small brain bleed while playing with his club team, the 18-and-under Boston Bulldogs, at […]