Wayne County Commissioners have put off until Friday making a decision about making masking mandatory in county buildings.
They will meet at 2:30 p.m. Friday in commissioners’ chambers in the Wayne County Administration Building.
The commissioners initially postponed taking a vote during their regular meeting on Wednesday, choosing to wait until hearing the opinion of the Wayne County Health Board, which met at noon on Thursday.
When the commissioners met at 3 p.m. Thursday, Commissioner Mary Anne Butters reported that the health board “strongly” recommended that that public and private organizations, as well as schools, support masking while inside.
On Wednesday, Indiana officials announced Wayne County had moved to the orange advisory level, or second-worst, after being in the blue, or best, level just a couple of weeks ago. Wayne County had worsened to yellow last week.
Butters and Commissioner Jeff Plasterer attended the health board meeting. Commissioners President Ken Paust was unable to attend because of a previously scheduled appointment.
Butters recommended returning to masking in all county buildings, using the same policy the county followed before the state lifted its mask mandate.
Plasterer asked that they take time before making a decision to consult with county department heads and elected officials. Plasterer said he wanted to hear the thoughts of those leaders so that they could put together a policy that would receive the least pushback, the greatest participation and the best enforcement.
“Any policy we put in place needs to be very clear,” Plasterer said.
Paust said the health and safety of county employees is his top priority but he, too, wanted to take one more day to have time to talk with Richmond Mayor Dave Snow about the city’s plans. In the past, the city and county have made joint announcements and comparable policies regarding masking.
Paust also said he wanted to take time to thoroughly read the five-page report presented by health board president Dr. Paul Rider.
Butters was unhappy with Paust and Plasterer for choosing to wait another day, noting that on Wednesday, the two seemed ready to approve masking inside county buildings.
“We lived with this (policy) for about 13 months with no problems to speak of so why go changing it?” Butters said. “Either you wear a mask, or you don’t wear a mask. It’s not like this is something new.”
The commissioners also postponed voting on a special Covid-related medical leave plan that would only be for employees who were fully vaccinated, citing the need to have county attorney Ron Cross further examine the policy.
– By Rachel Sheeley