An attempt to amend the order approved by the Dickinson County Commission mandating masks in public died for lack of a second.

Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson attempted to amend the order to clarify when employees of a business must wear a mask.

County Administrator Brad Homman pointed out that the order is somewhat contradictory.

One section identifies employees working in any space visited by customers or members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time.

Another identifies employees in any room or enclosed area where other people (except for individuals who reside together) are present and are unable to maintain a 6-foot distance except for infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.

Peterson made a motion to strike the section saying "regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time” from the order which died for lack of a second.

Commissioner Craig Chamberlin was unable to attend the meeting and the motion was not seconded by Commissioner Ron Roller.

"When it was brought to my attention, it was difficult for me to defend," Peterson said.

"Obviously, we are asking our experts their professional opinions," Roller said. "You are looking at a guy that had dust pneumonia, so masks are welcome to me. Believe me. We want to err on the side of precaution. We are here to protect people. Yes, it is going to come with some pain, but what doesn't?"

Dr. Brian Holmes, Dickinson County's health officer, said there is evidence that COVID-19 is airborne and can be spread through HVAC.

"I think we get lured into a false sense of security that the people you normally see are safe to be around, whether it is family, friends, workers," Holmes said. "The problem is, that is not a safe bubble to be in."

Workers are getting other workers sick, he said.

"But you thought that is someone who was safe to be around," he said. "Everyone has a life outside of their job. That puts other people at risk based on what they are doing."

Holmes said that many facilities have poor air turnover.

"That's part of the equation that hasn't been talked about enough, fresh are and air turnover," he said. "We are breathing in the same air all the time. If people work an eight-hour shift with each other, even if they are in this room and distance, they should really mask.

"Six feet is not like the virus stops," Holmes said. "If somebody coughs or sneezes, clears their throat or decides to sing a tune, the virus could spread more. They might not even know they have it. They could be asymptomatic and feeling good and never know they gave it to somebody."

"It's about protecting your employees and keeping your business running because your employees are healthy and able to come to work," he said.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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