County leaders, city and town mayors, and area health officials went into emergency mode on Monday, Jan 3. 

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston held an extended virtual meeting that included all of the city and town mayors in Guilford County.  Alston said after the meeting that the seriousness of the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had spurred the need for the meeting at which a new mask mandate was a key topic of discussion.

Alston added that, in addition to that meeting with the mayors, he’d also met much of the day with Guilford County staff, including county health officials, emergency response workers and the county’s legal office.

Alston said Monday after the meetings that area mayors had expressed a range of views regarding a new mask mandate that would require anyone in Guilford County to wear a mask while at public places such as stores, bars, clubs, restaurants or anywhere where members of the public congregate inside. 

“Some of the mayors favored a mandate,” Alston said, “Some didn’t and some had concerns about enforcement and that type of thing.”

Alston said one group that’s not split at all is the group of medical professionals from Cone Health and other health venues in the county.   They want to see a mask mandate in place.

 He said that, when the county got rid of the previous mask mandate in November, the percentage of positive coronavirus tests in Guilford County was under 5 percent – but now the numbers are much higher.

“We’re seeing a rate of 18.97 percent,” Alston said, adding that the test positivity rate had been much higher on some days recently and was expected by medical professionals to be over 30 percent soon.

The Guilford County Board of Health – which is identical to the Board of Commissioners in Guilford County – has called a meeting for Thursday, Jan. 13. However, at the rate things are moving now, a mask mandate could be in place before that meeting takes place.