Coronavirus

Reading has a new masking mandate| Reading

READING – Reading will soon have a new universal masking mandate.

During a virtual meeting last night, the town’s Board of Health stopped just short of officially declaring a new pandemic-related emergency order that will require all residents over two-years-old to wear a facial covering whenever congregating at a public indoor space within the community.

After Kevin Sexton, a Board of Health veteran, was asked by his colleagues to run the text of any order by legal counsel, the last-minute problems over the masking mandate were resolved.

Sexton stated that he was particularly concerned with the language that would have made this order effective at midnight today morning. Also, questions about whether or not the Board of Health motion could apply to private social club and business like fitness centers where visitors need to technically have a membership in order to walk in.

‘It gives zero time for anyone to prepare,” said Sexton, who insisted that the business community deserved at least some notice of the order before it went into effect.

The Board of Health members want to implement the new emergency health regulation as soon as possible due to a surge of local COVID-19 caseloads. They also agreed that it was sensible to have legal counsel review and approve the text of the masking order.

“I’d rather delay and get it right than have to do this twice,”Kerry Dunnell, Vice Chair of the Board of Health, said:

The Board of Health Chairman Dr. Richard Lopez warned the general public and local businesses that the masking proposal would be considered during a virtual meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, January 6th at 7 p.m.

“People ought to be aware of our sentiments tonight and the direction we’re moving in,”Lopez later asked Adeokunbo Sunilin, the new Reading Health Director, to send emails to local businesses informing them about the near certainty of a new masking directive being voted on this week.

The latest discussion about a concealing order comes almost eight months after the Board of Health lifted a similar facial covering requirement in Reading at March 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Reading is experiencing an increase in local infections at rates not seen since last year. Proponents of the reintroduction of a masking mandate say that Reading is seeing ICU and emergency rooms fill up. The mandate is a practical and effective way to reduce transmissions.

“I have been more conservative [in regards to restoring a masking mandate] over the past two or three months becausee our case rates were low, even in September and October when the surge was revving up,” Lopez said. “Since Thanksgiving, things have escalated and hospitals are reaching capacity. It’s a much different situation here.”

Solarin reports that nearly 68 percent (of the 281 Reading residents who tested positive for COVID-19) have reported having contracted the disease in the past two weeks. virusIn their own homes.

Sexton later asked whether an indoor masking device would have any impact upon new infection trends, given that evidence which suggests that most cases are due to household transmissions. Other Board of Health members however insisted that the order had no effect on them. maskFamily members would be prohibited from contracting the disease if there was a mandate virusin the first instance and then bringing it home.

Kerry Dunnell, a Board of Health member pointed out that there are many COVID-19 variants. This includes the newest. “Omicron”strain, are most infectious during the presymptomatic incubation period. This is before any symptoms of the illness become apparent.

“A mask mandate is a huge opportunity to cut down on those household transmissions, if we can stop people from picking up the virus when they’re out and about,”Dunnell argued.

Prior to the Board of Health’s deliberations, at least a dozen members of the public gave their takes on the masking proposal – with the majority of public commenters coming out against the would-be public health directive.

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