Usually, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners tries to make decisions that reflect the will of the people, but a lot of evidence indicates that board’s current mask mandate isn’t one of those decisions. 

The board adopted the measure last month, making masks mandatory when people are indoors in public places like stores, restaurants and theaters.

Commissioner Justin Conrad, who saw the emails that came in to the Board of Commissioners and that came to him individually, said that, before the vote took place, public sentiment was overwhelmingly against the mandate.

At the meeting, several commissioners who voted for the mandate also pointed out that they had gotten a lot of feedback asking the board not to implement the mandate.  They also, however, said they’d received responses from medical providers and other groups who were asking for the mandate.

One county staff person said staff doesn’t keep a running tally of for and against on issues like the mask mandates, however, the employee said that the calls coming in to the county were decidedly against. 

While the Board of Commissioners did approve the mask mandate, there was opposition to the move from both parties.  The board’s two Republican commissioners – Conrad and Alan Perdue – voted against it, and so did Democratic Commissioner James Upchurch.

Upchurch made the point that masks are just one strategy for fighting the virus. 

He asked health staff whether a vaccine was readily available to those who wanted it and staff said it was.

“So, at this point,” Murphy said, “it is on an adult’s personal responsibility to get the vaccine or not to.”

He said he was surprised a new county health order only addressed masks.

“We’re not talking about social distancing,” he said. “We’re not talking about capacity limits; we’re not giving the public guidance on what masks you should wear because we know that all masks are not highly effective when it comes to the spread of this virus.”

Commissioner Kay Cashion stated recently that she had certainly seen a lot of opposition to the mask mandate, but she added that much of that seemed to be via form letters that were signed and emailed in.  Cashion also said that, as the vote drew near, the support for the mask mandate seemed to pick up.

Cashion said she didn’t like wearing a mask, like most people, but said some small business owners had told her they wanted the mandate since it might help them keep their businesses open.