The Guilford County Commissioners, serving in the capacity of the County Board of Health voted at a special meeting Monday, November 15 to rescind the countywide mask mandate which was adopted August 26, 2021; requiring face masks be worn in public spaces. The Board voted unanimously to rescind the mandate effective immediately.
Chairman Alston opened the special called meeting stating, “We outlined in our initial mask mandate the triggers for masking reconsideration. At our last meeting, on November 2, our medical experts advised us that we had reached some of those trigger points and as a result we came together as a Board of Health to see if we are in a safer place in order remove masking in some part or in total,” said Guilford County Commissioner Chair Skip Alston. Staff confirmed that the County’s past twenty-one-day positivity rate was below 5%.
Vice-chairwoman Foster motioned to remove the mask mandate, seconded by Commissioner Upchurch.
“The right thing to do for your family, your friends, your neighbors, is to get vaccinated. However, we know that wearing a face mask when you’re in public indoor spaces is the second-best thing to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Given that our metrics are down within CDC guidelines for unmasking, we hope that the removal of the mandate will relieve some pressures on our community. I want to be clear though, for those who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised it is still strongly recommended that you continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and wait six feet apart from others,” he added.
Alston cautioned that there is no set rulebook on how to mitigate a global pandemic. Guilford County has seen this pandemic take turns for the better only to be followed by new and more challenging variants. The chairman clarified that local Public Health professionals will continue to monitor metrics and county staff will update the board if the metrics begin to move in the wrong direction.
With the recension of the countywide mask mandate, federal or other local rules may still apply to masking at various locations. Businesses continue to have the authority to implement voluntary guidance regarding their own operations and they can restrict service to customer who choose not to abide by reasonable and lawful safety restrictions such as wearing a mask and other COVID-19 precautions.
Alston noted that That all Guilford County employees and visitors to County facilities must still wear a mask indoors under the County Manager’s Authority; that all Guilford County School’s students, teachers and staff must continue to wear masks under the School Board’s Mask Mandate; and that the Federal Mask Mandate is still in place, so all masking rules for federal transportation such as buses, trains and airports remain in place. Federal masking rules also adhere most medical facilities.
Dr. Iulia Vann, Guilford County Public Health Division Director added, “I want to encourage everyone to please remain vigilant and up-to-date on best practices regarding COVID-19 safety. I would also like echo the chairman’s comments and strongly urge and recommend that those who are unvaccinated continue to wear a mask when in public spaces and indoors. As we approach the colder, holiday months, it is more important than ever for children 5 and older and adults to get vaccinated, avoid high-risk activities, and follow preventative methods outlined by the CDC. We know that ultimately vaccination is our best chance at ending this pandemic and decreasing community spread. The Division of Public Health continues to host vaccination clinics for children and adults, and the full schedule is available at www.GuilfordVaccination.com.”
For the latest COVID-19 Information, go to www.HealthyGuilford.com