Seneca County votes against mask mandate despite public health director’s plea

This week the Seneca County Board of Supervisors said no to a mask mandate, despite COVID-19 cases rising over the last several weeks.

Public Health Director Vickie Swinehart recommended to the Board that face coverings or masks be mandated for all employees and visitors at county-owned or leased buildings.

“COVID numbers are starting to go back up. The (Center for Disease Control) says our county’s transmission rate is substantial and our vaccination rate is low at 45.7% fully vaccinated” she said. “There have been new cases in August and school will be starting in two weeks. That concerns me. There has been a football player infected and contract tracing started. I urge you to take this seriously. We are not out of this virus yet. We’ve got a third vaccine dose ramping up that will require more clinics.”


The recommendation, which was made to the Public Health Committee and would have required a full-board vote later, was shut down. Supervisor Michael Reynolds, R-Covert, made a motion, but it never received a second from any other member of the committee.

“We are ramping back up with 50 active cases in the last 14 days. There is no mask mandate. Schools will be reopening soon. Taking no action is not right,” Swinehart added.

Seneca’s Personnel Officer Christopher Wagner told the board it comes down to risk mitigation, noting that he thought a mask mandate among workers and those who enter the building would be smart.

Supervisor Cindy Lorenzetti brought it up under Rule 29 later at the meeting, which requires two-thirds weighted approval among the full-board. Despite several supervisors voting for the mask mandate- the final tally was 377-321, not enough for it to be approved.


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