The recent spike in coronavirus infections nationally and locally had county leaders discussing the possibility of requiring face masks in businesses.
“I’ve gotten a lot of calls, a lot of emails,” said Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly during a Monday-morning meeting of the Kerr County Commissioners Court. “Just something for us to consider.”
But most members of the court expressed opposition to that measure, which was recently implemented by at least two other Texas counties, including Bexar. The Bexar county judge’s order, which went into effect Monday and expires at the end of the month, mandates that businesses require face masks “where 6 feet of separation is not feasible” and stipulates a fine of up to $1,000 for noncompliance.
Don Harris, Precinct 4 commissioner, said the decision of whether to wear face masks should be up to an individual’s discretion. He said forcing businesses to require masks would “be overreaching.”
“If you don’t see enough masks and you’re uncomfortable, turn around and walk away,” Harris said.
Harley Belew, Precinct 1 commissioner, said contracting COVID-19 “is not a death sentence.”
“There are a lot of people walking around that have had it and didn’t know it,” Belew said. “It’s not automatically going to kill you.”
Harris said he agreed with Belew.
“I think if the seasonal flu was monitored like this one, people would be hiding in the closet,” Harris said.
Jonathan Letz, Precinct 3 commissioner, also expressed opposition to forcing businesses to require masks.
“If a business wants to voluntarily require masks, that’s their prerogative,” Letz said.
County emergency management coordinator William “Dub” Thomas, during his briefing to commissioners on the COVID-19 situation, brought up the issue of face mask requirements, but didn’t take a stance on the matter.
“I think we need to continue to stress that folks need to wear a mask, you need to wash your hands; if you’re sick or don’t feel well, stay home, use hand sanitizer,” Thomas said.
Thomas warned that if people vulnerable to the disease don’t take those precautions, “it’s not a matter of if you’re going to catch this virus, it’s a matter of when you’re going to catch it.” And then their survivability will depend on how healthy they are, he added.