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Mayor Nass calls for a Mask Mandate in Pittsboro

On September 24th, Mayor Jim Nass issued an amendment to the State of Emergency Proclamation adding a Mask Mandate. It went into effect at 5 p.m. on September 24th and remains in force until the town’s state of emergency proclamation is amended to alter or rescind the mask mandate. Mayor Nass took this step due to the continued surge in the virus and the “science that shows wearing a mask reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19, making it one of our greatest weapons in the fight against this harmful virus.”

Town Board members and candidates in the November municipal election were asked if they supported
it and why.

Mayor Jim Nass

“As Mayor, I took a controversial but bold stand to implement a mask mandate in Pittsboro. With increasingly contagious variants, masking becomes more urgent. Covid case numbers are now reversing, and I hope we can release that mandate soon.

However, when we have a fast-spreading virus variant, we need to do whatever we can to keep our residents, especially children, from the spread of the highly contagious and deadly disease. Masks are also the best tool for keeping schools and businesses open. Many businesses have thanked me for taking this step, which prevented them from having to do so. As you know, enforcement is difficult, and we don’t want to bully people not abiding by the mandate. But personal responsibility is alive and well in our town.

When you look around, you see that it is highly unusual to see someone not wearing a mask inside. Still, however, vaccinations, are the best way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. Even though a small percentage of people who get vaccinated can experience breakthrough infections, the risk of extreme illness or death is extremely low. I urge you and your family to get vaccinated to prevent the loss of loved ones and to help stop mutating viruses from spreading in our community. If the mandate saves even one life it was the right thing to do.”

Mayoral Candidate Cindy Perry

Do you support the order? “Yes”

Why? “Protection of the public health is essential and fundamental.”

Town Board Commissioner and Candidate for re-election Pamela Baldwin

“Yes, I do support the indoor mask mandate for the Town of Pittsboro. COVID- 19 is not a political issue, it is a pandemic. It is a Public Health Emergency and should be treated as such. The mask mandate is a means of decreasing the spread of the COVID- 19 virus, the delta variant, and other variants, to those, such as our children, who cannot take the vaccine but must be protected. Additionally, this will also ensure the safety and protection of the general public as well. The ultimate goal is to reduce the spread of this deadly virus and to move this Town, State, and Country to a time in which this virus has been defeated and we can go back to a more normal life.”

Town Board Commissioner Jay Farrell

“I will just speak my piece. And we can go from there. I am not in favor of this. I think the citizens of Pittsboro can make their own decisions. If they want to wear a mask, fine or not, if they are vaccinated or not vaccinated. I feel like that is putting too much pressure or too much mandate on our citizens. And that’s pretty much all I have to say about that. I am not in favor of it”.

Excerpted from the September 13, 2021, Town Board Meeting

Town Board Commissioner and Candidate for re-election Michael Fiocco

“My take on it is I would encourage everybody to wear a mask when it is appropriate. I think when you are in close quarters and you are in close proximity to others, that is your best defense other than having a vaccine and I would encourage everybody to wear a mask and get a vaccine. It is for the health of our community, not just our physical health but our economic health. I think these are really important, but I do stop short of supporting a mandate. But I would encourage everybody to do the right thing for yourself and for your fellow Pittsborians.”

Excerpted from the September 13, 2021, Town Board Meeting

Town Board Commissioner Kyle Shipp

“As I understand it, it is not something that would be enforceable. As a general statement I am not in favor of us passing things that are not enforceable. And outside of that, I do think that people, especially that it is not enforceable, people will still do what they wish. Especially in regards to this in particular and I don’t think we’re gonna change that behavior with a mandate.”

Excerpted from the September 13, 2021, Town Board Meeting

Town Board Commissioner John Bonitz

“I am in favor the idea of a rule for requiring masks indoors at retail establishments in Pittsboro. My understanding is that each of the largest, highest population communities surrounding Pittsboro—Wake County, Durham County, and Orange County—have passed either a county level or municipal level similar rules. It is clear that the Delta variant is more contagious or virulent and the evidence for that is pretty clear that there’s higher viral load in the noses, respiratory of people who contract the virus, whether they are vaccinated or not. That is one of the surprising things. That we can be vaccinated and carry the virus and have it at that higher, more virulent level and give it to others. I have been very troubled to hear about area ICUs overflowing. …I think it is worth noting that more than a week ago our county health department issued a press release using the word ‘implore’, our county health officials are imploring
people to wear masks. I think that we should pass a mask mandate.”

Excerpted from the September 13, 2021, Town Board Meeting