All indications are that Chair of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston has the votes to pass a mask mandate for Guilford County at the Guilford County Board of Health meeting on Thursday, Jan. 13.

The Guilford County Board of Health and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners are identical, the members simply put on different hats.

Mask mandates are controversial.  Many studies show that masks have no significant effect on the spread of viruses similar to the virus that causes COVID-19.  Other studies show that proper masks do slow the spread, if worn correctly.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend the use of masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.  But the recommendation from the CDC is not a blanket recommendation.

According to the CDC, masks should “Have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric

“Completely cover your nose and mouth

“Fit snugly against the sides of your face and don’t have gaps

“Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top the mask”

The CDC also recommends against wearing “‘surgical’ N95 respirators, as those should be prioritized for healthcare personnel.”

It doesn’t make sense to have a mask mandate for Guilford County and allow masks that according to the CDC are not effective, like one ply fabric masks, or masks worn under the nose, which appears to be the way some elected officials prefer to wear their masks.

If Guilford County imposes a mask mandate on its residents, it should be a mask mandate that requires not simply a face covering but face coverings worn in a manner that according to the medical authorities actually slows the spread of COVID-19.

To be effective, according to the CDC, people should wash their hands before putting on their mask and should not touch their mask while wearing it. 

The CDC also recommends that disposable masks, like the ubiquitous blue masks, should be thrown away after wearing them once.

When the government-imposed laws requiring those driving or riding in a vehicle to wear a seatbelt, people were not allowed to tie a piece of twine around their waist and attach it to the door handle.  The seatbelt had to be a seatbelt that meet strict safety guidelines.  Motorcycle helmet laws don’t allow motorcycle riders to wear paper mache helmets that look like a real helmet but provide no protection for the rider.

Why should a mask mandate allow masks that according to the CDC do not work, or be allowed to wear a proper mask in a manner that makes it ineffective?

If Guilford County passes a mask mandate like the one currently invoked for unincorporated Guilford County, it is nothing but virtue signaling.  In other words, covering your face because the county says so, even though according to the current medical science the face covering will do little if anything to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Guilford County should either pass a mask mandate requiring people to wear masks that work and wear them properly or allow people to make their own choice about wearing masks.