SL County mask mandate stands after vote in SLC County Council meeting
SALT LAKE COUNTY— The 30-day mask mandate for Salt Lake County remains in place after a vote took place Thursday evening.
The vote was at four to four in the meeting and came down to the vote of Council Chair, Laurie Stringham.
“Do I think a mandate’s the best way to do this? Hell no,” Stringham said.
Stringham said she was frustrated and had been spending a lot of her time researching the best way to move forward, with a lack of help from her colleagues.
“I do believe in choice which is why we made sure that there were exemptions for families, for schools which is why we did say that we’ll do the best we can but we’re not fully enforcing this,” Stringham said. “As you can see….we’re not fully enforcing this, we are allowing choice today.”
Stringham voted to keep the mandate, but explained that she believed in the importance of choice and that she would be calling a meeting with leaders Monday morning to discuss ways to protect the choice of individuals.
“But until that happens and we have a plan, I will let this stand,” Stringham said.
Other members shared brief comments on their decision. Council member Ann Granato voted against overturning the mandate.
“My research on this issue is extensive and my position is informed by overwhelming input from my district,” Granato said.
Council member Steve Debry mentioned he had stayed true to his comments in the previous year against mask mandates.
“Nothing has changed for me and I’ll let all my comments stand,” DeBry said.
Aimee Winder made her comments remotely as she said, ” My family members have had covid and now it’s my turn.”
Council Member Dea Theodore reminded people to be civil in their communications with her or any of her associates on the council.
“Keep in mind that we’re people and we’ve been put in this position and it’s been harder than anything we’ve ever known,” Theodore said.
She voted in favor of overturning the mandate.
The mandate was issued in response to the growing surge of omicron cases and was expected to pass after council chair, Laurie Stringham announced her support for the mandate earlier this week.
“We have very intelligent people in our community, their ability to take problems, turn them around and not have to do government mandates and come up with other ways to do that,” Stringham said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to pull together and it’s amazing how many people were unwilling to talk to me because they just wanted to make a statement and a take a political position.”
Stringham then said there were “some very serious issues right now. She mentioned the difficulty of high schools and test to stay protocols, fire departments having enough people to staff and keep the public safe, restaurants closing and stores worrying about staffing.
Winder also commented on staffing issues and her fears for the healthcare workers who she called “exhausted.”
“It’s time that we join together and work to get through the next few hard weeks. I am not a fan of government mandates, but we have to do something, anything, to slow down the spread,” Winder said. “Our health department officials are recommending masking. Even if masks work to decrease spread by a small margin, it’s at least something. Our economy, our hospitals and our schools need workers. And right now this virus is hitting so fast and furious that we need to do all we can to slow it down through layered approaches and using every tool in the toolbox… even masks.”
The mandate only applies to indoor buildings and was issued by the Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Dr. Angela Dunn on Jan. 7.
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