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.

(3) comments

John Burkhart

I invite people to view the US Army NBC Warfare Manual, provided in the link. Notice: Chemical and Nuclear Warfare has all kinds of guidance on protection, sheltering, and immediate First Aid. Chapter 5, Biological Warfare, does not. Keep full buttoned up, wear the issue sealed mask with filters, and isolated people showing symptoms is the only active thing that can be done. Your physical condition, hygiene of yourself and area is the only thing that put you ahead. Your immune system is the only real protection we have. Period. Someone become sick? Legal requirement enforced to isolate them are sensible. With the survival rate now pretty much known, legal mandates on the healthy is overreach. If a business doesn't want to let anybody in without a mask? Since they can standby, "no shirt, no shoes, no service". That isn't a problem.

chris peterson

I have had 2 employees contact covid-19 in Kerrville at a local bar here in town. They then spread it to their families. Why has there been no contact tracing and why is that bar still able to operate well over 50% occupancy? Does the dollar bill really mean more than life itself here in Kerrville? Our county officials need to realize the consequences of their actions. It is very apparent driving around Kerrville that there is zero accountability with any restaurants or bars here in town following the state mandate with the requirements to operate safely and under the state guidelines. Driving by the Pier and the Boat cars are parking on the street due to the amount of people inside? Its very apparent these establishments are well exceeding the 50% occupancy.I guess having a beer and making a buck is obviously more important than saving lives.

Larry Hunter

One would not expect the county commissioners to support stronger measures for controlling the spread of covid. They still believe it is an effort by the liberals to defeat Trump, etc. etc. etc. Many in the county have no understanding of courtesy. I observed this yesterday at a mini-mart (that doesn't require customers to wear masks) when a large group of young men and women came through the door, ignoring social distancing and not wearing masks. I may make a better effort to do business with those requiring masks.

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