Apparently, a lot of people in Guilford County have no desire to start wearing masks again when they’re indoors eating, shopping or whatever. 

In emails and calls to commissioners, on social media and in person, many citizens are letting the Board of Commissioners know that they’re displeased, to say the least, about the new mask mandate that goes into effect on Friday, Aug. 13.

Even before the Tuesday, August 10 vote of 7 to 2 by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, some area mayors told board Chair Skip Alston that they weren’t in favor of the mandate, which carries fines for people who don’t mask up and for businesses that don’t make them.

The vote was along straight party lines and, after the mask mandate was approved, Republican Commissioner Justin Conrad said that he began getting inundated with calls and emails from people who thought the mask mandate was a major mistake.  Conrad got a lot of angry feedback – and he’s one of the two county commissioners who voted no on the matter. 

Commissioner Alan Perdue, also a Republican, is the other one.

Conrad contacted the Rhino Times on the Thursday after the vote and asked that the Rhino make it clear he was opposed to the motion.  He said he thinks the county requiring masks for people indoors at public places is a blunder – and he doesn’t want to unfairly get lumped in with the seven commissioners who voted for it.

George McClellan, an Oak Ridge Town Councilmember who’s planning on running for county commissioner next year, posted a video on Facebook denouncing the new mask requirement.

He called the mandate “heavy handed” and said that business owners are just recovering from the pandemic but the mask mandate will hurt businesses again.

He also said the move could “undercut vaccination efforts.” 

“The drama surrounding the mandate will possibly create a distraction in the effort to get people vaccinated,” McClellan said in the video.

Former Republican Guilford County Commissioners Jeff Phillips and Alan Branson no doubt wished they were still on the board for the vote because each had some choice words for the current board – and each man says he would have voted no.

Here is how one call from a county resident to a current commissioner went this week.

“I’m not doing it,” the caller said in a voicemail to the commissioner.  “I’m vaccinated.  Not doing it.  I’ll fake it – I’ll hold my little mask up in front of my face, go in the store, put it in my pocket.  You guys are nuts.”

The woman calling in said that the board was perhaps “playing God” and added that with smallpox and chickenpox a threat, “We might as well go around masked for the rest of our lives.”

Alston said he is hearing some negative responses to the mandate but added that he is hearing even more positive feedback. 

On Thursday, August 12, Alston said, “The count today is 45 yes and 15 no.”