Well, the residents of Guilford County may have blown their chance to go maskless indoors at public entertainment venues, stores and restaurants. 

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston – who was a big advocate of a countywide mask mandate in the battle against COVID-19 earlier this year – said this week that he’s setting up a meeting with county health officials and others to see if the mask mandate should be adopted once again.

“I am calling for a meeting with them on Thursday, Jan. 13 to discuss their thoughts and consider any suggestions they may make,” Alston said on Thursday, Dec. 30. 

At that meeting, the Board of Commissioners could vote to implement a new mask mandate or decide to take other measures – or do both.

 In late summer, the last time the board was alarmed about rising COVID-19 case numbers, the commissioners voted to implement a mask mandate for everyone anytime they were indoors at a public place in Guilford County. 

The commissioners stated that the mandate would stay in place until the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests in Guilford County fell below 5 percent for three weeks.  On Monday, Nov. 15, the board voted to rescind the mandate – but said it would be revisited if the coronavirus case numbers began to rise.  In recent days, the positivity rate has been almost four times what the board deemed an acceptable level in the summer of 2021 when the mask mandate was implemented.

Alston, the chairman of the majority party on the board, will no doubt be the one who ultimately makes the call.  He said this week that he can’t say right now whether a mandate will be needed once again.

“I’m not sure,” he said, adding, “I will follow the advice of the medical professionals. The numbers and stats are not looking good now.”

Alston said county officials will also get an update from Guilford County Health Director Dr. Iulia Vann and consider any recommendations she may make.