Clayton votes to keep mask mandates in county-owned buildings

Clayton County government is joining Clayton County Schools in continuing its face mask policities. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Caption
Clayton County government is joining Clayton County Schools in continuing its face mask policities. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Clayton County will continue to mandate masks in county-owned buildings.

County Commission Chairman Jeff Turner had sought on Tuesday to repeal the mandate, but his fellow commissioners voted down the idea. The opposing commissioners said the threat of COVID-19 is far from over and worried that repealing the mandate would put workers and citizens at risk.

“I just think for a while we need to just hold off until these numbers start going down and ... this Delta variant and all gets under control just a little,” said Clayton Commissioner Gail Hambrick. “I think we really need to keep this in place.”

The discussion comes as infection rates have soared nationally because of the more infectious Delta variant, while at the same time the pace of vaccinations has slowed. The American Academy of Pediatrics earlier in the week suggested children continue wearing masks in schools because of the increasing variant threat.

Clayton County Schools has said the district plans to require masks in buildings when classes for the new academic year begin Aug. 2.

Turner said he supports mask wearing, but that he is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that say fully vaccinated people can go into buildings without face coverings.

“I would also take this opportunity to encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” he told the meeting audience, which was sparsely seated to observe social distancing rules. “We are one of those counties who are lagging in terms of vaccinations.”

Commissioner DeMont Davis said keeping the mandate is necessary because even vaccinated people are contracting the disease.

“Considering we are talking about public facilities, we need to put into place protocols that are going to protect all folk,” he said. “I would prefer to err on the side of caution.”