Boone Town Council passes mask mandate

Boone+Town+Council+passes+mask+mandate

Ethan Hunt, Associate News Editor

The Boone Town Council voted in favor of reinstating a mask mandate for indoor public settings in their Aug. 6 meeting. 

Boone residents are required to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status. Residents age two or younger and those with medical conditions are exempt from the mandate. 

The town council cited the rise in daily case counts due to the delta variant of coronavirus and the return of App State students to Boone as reasons for reinstating the mandate in a press release Aug. 6. 

Businesses open to the public within the Town of Boone have the right to adopt additional COVID-19 precautions, and local law enforcement will enforce additional restrictions set by business owners. 

Violation of the mandate in any public setting is a class 2 misdemeanor. Citations are still subject to the “three strikes and you’re out” policy which was in place during the previous mask mandate between July and March 2020. Offenders will be educated after their first offense and issued a warning on their second before finally receiving a citation on their third offense. 

Watauga County has 66 active cases of COVID-19 and 85 individuals being monitored due to exposure to the virus as of Aug. 16, according to the AppHealthCare dashboard

Prior to voting, the town council heard from Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare Director. Greene noted that AppHealthCare has seen some breakthrough cases in individuals who have been vaccinated, but she reiterated that vaccinated individuals are 25 times less likely to be hospitalized or die from coronavirus. 

“Until we get a higher percentage of our population vaccinated we’re going to continue to see more variants emerge and we’re going to continue to see this disruption from COVID,” Greene said.

The return to state of emergency status comes four days after App State announced that students, faculty and staff will be required to wear masks indoors on campus in the fall and submit to weekly COVID-19 testing if they are unvaccinated. 

After the mask mandate passed 4-1, the town council voted to give vaccinated Boone employees $150. Employees who receive their first shot in the next two weeks will also receive $150.