Some people thought the Guilford County Board of Commissioners might do away with the existing countywide mask mandate at the board’s Thursday, Feb. 3 meeting.  

However, that didn’t happen and now many residents are asking how long that mandate will be in effect.  The man who knows the most in regard to the answer is Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston – and he said this week that it will depend on the advice from Guilford County’s health professionals and members of the local medical community.

While the coronavirus is still widely prevalent in Guilford County and across the country, many communities that previously had mask mandates have done away with them.  However, in mid-January, the Democratic majority on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to implement a new mask mandate and currently those six commissioners show no indication of a desire to get rid of it.

The mandate requires that people indoors in public places such as stores and restaurants wear a mask.

This week Alston told the Rhino Times that the mask mandate will stay in effect as long as county health officials deem it necessary.  He said the current order has an expiration date of Sunday, Feb. 27, but he added that the county may very well vote again to extend the mandate if the COVID-19 tests’ positivity rates don’t decline and Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann thinks it is necessary.

“We discussed it at our previous meeting, but no one made a motion to rescind it,” Alston said.  “When we meet again this month we will take a look at it and then reevaluate it at each meeting. Any action will be based on the report from the county’s health experts.”

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet twice a month for the next few months.

Republican Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad said the mandate is based on questionable science and needs to be done away with.  He said Alston and the Democrats are listening to the medical advice that they want to hear while excluding an opposing body of evidence. 

Conrad has gone head-to-head with Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann at times armed with scientific studies that he has brought to the board’s attention.

  He said that’s what a vast majority of the public wants as well.  Conrad said he didn’t make the motion to rescind the mandate at the last commissioners’ meeting because his two fellow Republican commissioners who oppose the mandate had already left the virtual meeting, and, even if they were still participating at that point, the motion would have failed 6 to 3 along party lines.