The debate on whether the county should continue enforcing the universal mask mandate was the subject of a heated debate that lasted more than two hours.
The County Supervisors had on their Sept. 28 agenda the review of masking requirements under the health order dated Aug. 17, 2021. The board decided to keep the order with the condition that there are constant updates and if there is a downward trend in the number of COVID cases they will consider rescinding the mask health order if the data justifies it.
During the last two Imperial County Board of Supervisors meetings, a group of residents has used the public comments portion of the meeting to ask the supervisors to rescind the mask mandate and allow the residents to take personal responsibility.
Some residents have expressed their frustration about not being able to enter a store without a mask while others, with their kids enrolled in schools, are asking that their children are not forced to use a mask during the long school hours.
Valley resident Autumn Plourd asked the board to consider the speakers asking them to rescind the mask mandate and as leaders make the right decision.
“Please listen to us and don’t fall on deaf ears,” Plourd asked the board.
Jeanette Angulo, Director of Public Health, gave her weekly presentation and said that there are currently 444 active COVID cases as of Sept. 28. The total of Delta cases is 364 cases in Imperial County.
“The Imperial County went through a difficult time with COVID. Businesses had to close, children had to be at home, it was difficult but masks are preventing more transmission. We don’t want to repeat that,” said Dr. Stephen Munday.
The goal of the order, according to the health department, is to protect the community and local healthcare system from a major resurgence of COVID-19 cases and to allow businesses and services in Imperial County to remain open. Under the order, Imperial County residents and visitors are required to wear face coverings in all indoor public settings, venues, gatherings, and workplaces, such as but not limited to offices, retail stores, restaurants and bars, theaters, family entertainment centers, conference centers, and government offices.
One speaker questioned the health department as to why they haven’t followed the treatment recommendations of local doctors against COVID. Dr. Munday said the role of the health department is to inform and doesn’t enforce any medical recommendations.
The order is in addition to the state health officer order that requires face coverings for all individuals in public transit, indoor K-12 schools, childcare settings, emergency shelters, cooling centers, healthcare settings, correctional facilities and detention centers, and homeless shelters, and also requires face coverings for all unvaccinated individuals in any indoor public settings.
The local universal masking order was in response to a recent rise in local, statewide, and national COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the Delta variant. This action aligns with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines and orders.
“The continued rise in cases is of utmost concern, particularly in our neighboring counties who help support our local healthcare system,” stated Dr. Stephen Munday, Imperial County Health
Officer, in a statement, made Aug. 17. “Out of an abundance of caution, indoor face covering is being required as a simple, effective way to help us slow the spread of COVID-19 and to help reduce the number of preventable hospitalizations and deaths in our community. I am grateful to the more than 70% of Imperial County residents 12 and older who are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All eligible Imperial County residents who have not yet been vaccinated are urged to do so to protect themselves and their families and friends.”
Supervisor District 1 Jesus Eduardo Escobar responder to a comment asking the board to not fall on deaf ears. He mentioned how he takes this personally due to her daughter’s medical condition.
“I take this very seriously since my daughter is in chemotherapy. I would rather be uncomfortable wearing a mask than infect someone. I have to take care of my family, a family of 180 thousand people that live in Imperial County,” Escobar said.