Right now, everyone is – by law and under threat of financial penalty – required to wear a mask when indoors in a public place in Guilford County.  

That, however, looks like it will change on Monday, Nov. 15, when the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to discuss the matter and possibly vote to remove the mandate.

The county implemented the mask mandate in August – twice.

In the first attempt, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners (acting as the Guilford County Board of Health) failed to meet a public notice requirement, which effectively rendered the mandate toothless.  The second mandate in late August, however, did stick, and people in Guilford County have been required to mask up ever since in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

At that time, the mandate came with an expiration date of early January.  In January, commissioners might vote to extend the mandate – however, based on the board’s discussion nearly two weeks ago, it looks a lot like that baked-in expiration date won’t even come into play.

Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad said he believes the votes were probably there at the meeting about two weeks ago to get rid of the mandate.  However, in order to drop the rule, the commissioners had to give at least 10 days of notice of the possibility. They did so the day after that meeting.

 The meeting for potentially rescinding the mandate was scheduled for Monday, Nov. 15 – the first weekday after the 10-day public notice requirement was met.  That scheduling date itself is a good sign for those who want to see the mandate come to an end.

At the mask mandate meeting in October, everyone on the Zoom call from commissioners of both parties to health experts seemed as though they would be comfortable with dropping the mandate at this Monday. Nov. 15 meeting. 

When the mask mandate was implemented in late August, the county set two guidelines – though neither is binding on the board – for assessing when the mandate should end. 

The motion that established the mandate also stated, it is “the Board’s intention to reevaluate this Rule as circumstances change, including if and when the County’s vaccination rate reaches 70% or its positivity rate is at or below 5% for 3 consecutive weeks.”

On Thursday, Nov. 11, the county listed the 14-day positivity rate at 4 percent and the single-day rate as 5.1 percent.  About 55 percent of the total population of Guilford County has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Again, those are both guidelines. The commissioners can each make their decisions based on their views of the overall COVID-19 situation in Guilford County.