BOONE — People are now required to wear masks in indoor public settings in Boone after the Boone Town Council voted on Aug. 6 to reinstate their mask mandate regardless of vaccination status as per the June 18, 2020, order.

The order is effective Aug. 10 at 5 p.m. with enforcement by police starting three weeks later. The council voted to make it so law enforcement can provide warnings, but can not issue citations — which would be a class 2 misdemeanor after substantial warning — until three weeks after the order is effective.

The town voted 4-1 in favor of the mandate with council member Sam Furgiuele voting against.

The full State of Emergency Declaration — which outlines exceptions to wearing a mask including if a person has trouble breathing and for those dining at a restaurant while they are at their table — can be found at www.townofboone.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/SOE-8621.pdf.

The mandate does not apply to those who are two years old or younger.

The town also voted that businesses are free to adopt additional COVID-19 protective measures, and any business that will that does so, will be supported by the town police department through proper execution of trespassing orders.

The town will also voluntarily suspended — temporarily — outdoor seating restrictions that would otherwise apply, and allow any establishment to seat people outside rather than inside. The mandate comes after the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests nearly tripled from 3.27 percent July 18 through July 24 to 9.04 percent between July 25 and July 31, according to AppHealthCare.

After the town council voted to mandate masks, they voted to give town of Boone employees who have already been vaccinated $150. Any Boone employee who gets their first shot within the next two weeks would also get $150. The payments to employees is coming from federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Those who get the shot from now until the end of August also qualify for $100.

Boone Town Manager John Ward said that 126 town of Boone employees are vaccinated, while 62 are not.

The council also discussed requiring town employees to mask indoors and to test on a weekly basis. There was a concern that those requirements would create the potential to lose employees. The town council voted 3-1 in favor of requiring town employees to get tested weekly starting in two weeks if they are not vaccinated.

Active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County have gone from 22 on July 30 to 63 on Aug. 6.

When the council began discussing the mask mandate, council member Virginia Roseman gave a strong plea to the board in favor of reinstating the mask mandate. She said she continues to wears a mask eight to 12 hours a day.

“I have immune issues,” Roseman said. “I grow cancer polyps throughout all of my digestive system. Every six months, I have to do procedures to have them removed. I am the person who is scared of getting this disease, or this virus, because it will probably kill me.”

Roseman said that she works in a profession that puts her in front of 300 people daily. Her work, she said, puts her in close contact with those people, but she said she still goes in and does her job. Since the mask mandate ended, she said she has still worn a mask.

“I have never not worn a mask in an indoor environment,” Roseman said. “The reason is because I care about that person. But you know what, I ... care about myself and I care about being here for my family. So I wear masks. I’m the person that has the health issue. I am the reason I am begging this (council) to help me to put a mask mandate on indoor establishments. That’s my statement as a citizen.”

Furgiuele likened the mask mandate to smoking and how secondhand smoke affects people.

“If it were only about them, then go for it,” Furgiuele said. “But what we’ve learned over the last decades is that even smoking has impacts on other people. I agree that we have a moral responsibility to try to protect the public. It’s the innocent people that I think we’re legislating for if we take action.”

Boone Police Chief Andy Le Beau spoke to the town to talk about enforcement of any proclamations that the town created. He said it’s easier for his department to deal with a state level order as everyone knows about it, rather than a town level one especially as a tourist destination. He said it would come down to educating the public.

“We’re going to have many local people that aren’t necessarily in tune with locally at the town of being the decisions that we make,” Le Beau said. “Education is extremely important.”

He said the police department would be happy to help any businesses that call them for people who are not complying with the businesses order or the town council order. He said trespassing someone from the premises is a good solution if that came up. Le Beau also said it would be hard for his officers to enforce social distancing since people can move before an officer can get there.

“I think, you know, having the mandate, will certainly cause many and most law-abiding citizens to want to comply and who understand the dangers of COVID and Delta variant,” Le Beau said. “I’m happy to help out in every way I can. I just think it’s important for us to understand that there are limitations when it comes to enforcement.”

Before the members discussed the mask mandate, AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene provided a COVID-19 update and answered questions from council members. She said that the county is starting to see the level of cases similar to what the county experience in the spring and that the cases picked up at the end of July.

She said the majority of severe cases and those who are hospitalized are in those who are unvaccinated.

“I will tell you we had no one in the hospital for a period of time, related to COVID-19 even earlier in July and this morning (Aug. 6), we had up to eight patients hospitalized locally,” Greene said. “You are 25 times less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID if you’ve been fully vaccinated. That is really important information for folks to remember.”

Greene also answered questions from almost every council member. Furgiuele asked if the health department is seeing more cases in younger people, which she said they are especially in the last two weeks. She said she believes it’s because they are unvaccinated.

Furgiuele also asked if the health department has seen people who had COVID-19 get contact the virus again; Greene said yes, but it’s a low number.

Roseman asked Greene if the Delta variant was more contagious, which she said current data suggests it is more contagious.

Furgiuele also asked Greene if it was reasonable to conclude that the town of Boone taking early steps to require mask and other measures might have had an impact in improving the local situation. Greene said that was true which is why Furgiuele was in favor of reintroducing some of the preventive measures.

Five people spoke during the meeting’s public comment section, either in support or against a mask mandate.

Community member Joan Brook said she was glad that Appalachian State University announced that people would be required to wear masks indoors on campus.

“I believe that that’s the best way to be safe,” Brook said. “Everyone in person should be required to wear masks.”

Another community member, Tyler Sherwood, spoke against the mask mandate, saying that they should be optional. He also said he believed that the vaccine should not be mandated or required for anyone since the long term effects are not known. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the vaccines are built on both mRNA and viral-vector vaccines technology that have been around from over 30 years of scientific work and development.

Annie Woodford spoke about how she has small children and family who are at higher risk. She wanted the council to mandate masks for the public indoors again.

“I’m begging you to follow the advice of our country’s top experts, people who have devoted their lives to public health and medical science to make math required in our community,” Woodford said. “I don’t think it will affect the business on King Street or in Boone because people always flock to this beautiful town and if they are masked, you will be doing your part to protect our elders and our children.”

Boone Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and President David Jackson also spoke on the potential impact on businesses. He said that some businesses — The Cardinal, Lily’s Snackbar and Speakeasy Tattoo Co. — are already mandating masks for customers and employees.

“I have been encouraged to hear more employers around here, providing good information about vaccines to their employees,” Jackson said.

He also heard from businesses that said it’s not tenable for staff to enforce mask wearing by patrons who refuse to do so, but it would be easier if they had town orders to back them up.

“Our message since the end of the (state executive order) has been to keep a mask in your pocket and know that if a business requires it, you must comply or face not being able to visit that business,” Jackson said.

Pam Williamson also spoke in favor of masks, saying that she knew it was hard for people, but the council needs to do what they need to do to protect community members.

Recommended for you

(23) comments

Comment deleted.
guest83

Gee Andy, those "diseased illegals" must love MAGA country. If immigrants are so terrible why do so many MAGA get infected by them? Forbidden love?

Kinney R. Baughman

Seems appropriate to post this here in this thread.

Mask up and get vaccinated, everyone. For your sake, for the sake of the community and, more importantly, the sake of our hospital workers.

We're long past blaming this, that or the other tribe for how this started. Our responsibility now is to put it behind us.

--snip--

Chad Smoker MD

It pains me to write this, but COVID is the worst that it has ever been in our communities right now. We are seeing multiple positives in our practice every day. COVID patients are straining the capacity of our local hospitals. People are getting sick and some are dying.

Because of this, I have been part of a group of practicing and retired physicians, including the Medical Staff Executive Team at BRRH, who has been contacting local superintendents and school boards recommending required masking as school starts next week, at least until our local numbers improve.

I also understand that our local health department is making similar recommendations and now health department officials are being publicly threatened.

I am so sad and frustrated by those in our community who aren't able to recognize the serious situation we face. In the past 2 days 37 children in Yancey and Mitchell counties have tested positive for COVID-19. If you consider siblings and friends of those kids, I'm sure there are 3-4x that number who are sick.

If that number of sick kids walk into school on Monday without a mask, we are looking at HUNDREDS of sick students and teachers. We are looking at schools and school activities shutting down.

Please join our medical and public health community in supporting the health and well-being of our children as they attempt to return to school next week in a manner that keeps them from getting sick and spreading COVID. Please share this information as widely as possible so our community understands the grave situation we are facing.- CS

Donald

Interesting that we are getting more infections of COVID-19 and variations as our present federal administration and their CDC and Homeland Security Department bureaucrats are allowing hoards of illegal immigrants come across our borders, then sending those that are violating our existing laws to points around our country in buses and planes without the approval or knowledge of the governors, ICE or local communities! Its documented that most groups from south of our borders have a 10% to 20% positive existence of COVID infections! Did our city managers know that there are recent additions of Hispanics being housed in the community just north of the downtown area of Boone? Who are they? Are they being brought in by the federal government from our southern border from Texas to Arizona? Is this why we have a spike in COVID infections? Good questions, and do our city council and mayor have answers? Why do we have to wear masks when our local, state and federal Democratic Party leadership officials ignore our immigration laws that are designed to protect the American citizens that pay your salaries! Where is the accountability for these dangerous actions? Anyone managing our city & county have answers?

Kinney R. Baughman

You're right, Donnie. It's the brown people's fault.

The disinformation spewed across the airwaves and social media from the great disinformation factory of the unhinged Radical Right who railed against masks - when that was the only tool we had to fight Covid - and the subsequent railing against vaccines because why not - doesn't factor in at all.

We're trying to have a meaningful discussion about what's best for our community right here in the High Country as we see Covid on the increase all around us. Your racist screed against the Hispanics in our community and the public airing of the fear-inducing, conspiracy laden voices in your head do nothing to help us solve the problem we're facing.

Try again.

thechaosaysmuuuu

Donny, you're out of your element!

Seriously though, the fact that you only ever take time to come on here to do one of two things is pretty telling: Tell the world what a great Christian you think you are, and to denigrate and debase anyone that disagrees with you or has a different skin tone.

Do us all a favor and please go crawl back into whatever god-forsaken cave or swamp that you emerged from. Your continual hate towards your fellow human beings and propensity for spreading outright lies is not welcome here.

App_Mtn

COVID Doesn't Exist?: https://truth11.com/2021/08/04/patrick-king-of-red-deer-alberta-wins-court-case/

Lawsuit on WHO-CDC Fraud?: http://stateofthenation.co/?p=68948

Dr Fauci's Modus Operandi: https://forbiddenknowledgetv.net/dr-judy-mikovits-faucis-c-19-crimes-arent-his-first-plandemic/

Kinney R. Baughman

For goodness sake, man! "Truth11.com"? "stateofthenation.co"? And this is the one I really like, "forbiddenknowledgetv.net"?

Those are all so clearly conspiracy and propaganda sites - built on WordPress, no less - that it's laughable that you put those out as legitimate sources of information. You get a 1/2 a point for at least trying to back up your opinion but you simply have to try harder than that. We're trying to have a meaningful discussion here.

But don't take my word for it. Here's what "mediabiasfactcheck.com" has to say about them. Having taken a look at the sites myself, I concur:

From mediabiasfactcheck.com

"truth11.com

Overall, we rate 911Truth.org a Tin Foil Hat level Conspiracy website based on the promotion of unproven claims related to 9/11 and Low for factual reporting due to the use of very poor sources that lack credibility."

That's right. This is a site that says 911 was a False Flag attack by the US Government against its own people. ~krb

stateoftheunion.co

"History

Founded in 2012, State of the Nation (formerly State of the Nation 2012) is a propaganda and conspiracy website that focuses on right-wing politics. According to their about page, “SOTN has no other interest except uncovering and presenting the facts. SOTN commentary provides a uniquely insightful perspective rarely found anywhere else in the alternative news media.”

The website completely lacks transparency as it does not name authors, editors, or owners.

Analysis / Bias

In review, State of the Nation does not write original content, but rather links to other news sources, videos, social media, etc. They also republish news from other sources. Story selection comes from a far-right perspective with many stories promoting conspiracy theories such as this Here’s the Raw Truth about the Covid-19 Vaccine. (Video). This is a video that features Anti-vaccination Dr. Simone Gold, who has made numerous false claims regarding the Coronavirus. She was also arrested for taking part in the Capitol riots on January 6th. When it comes to sourcing they frequently use far-right questionable sources such as Breitbart, Zero Hedge, and the Gateway Pundit.

Overall, we rate State of the Nation (SOTN) extreme right biased and Questionable based on the promotion of propaganda, conspiracy theories, and pseudoscience as well as the use of poor sources, a complete lack of transparency, and false claims. (D. Van Zandt 1/13/2017) Updated (2/1/2021)"

With normal everyday ad blockers, you can't even get on this site's home page. But through the link provided we discover that "Hard Proof: Coivd-19 Surges and Outbreaks Nationwide Caused by High Covid Vaccination Rates". Dude. Please. ~krb

TheForbiddenKnowledge.com

"Factual Reporting: LOW

The Forbidden Knowledge really is just totally crazy conspiracies. I know that is not much of a review, but quite frankly I don’t want to look at this site too long. At least not without a tinfoil hat. (D. Van Zandt 7/21/2016)"

Ah, yes. This is a site that reports that even NASA admits we never went to the moon. ~krb

And you wonder why the rest of us wonder why we're still in the middle of a pandemic.

thechaosaysmuuuu

*Peer-Reviewed* evidence is what you need to offer. You know, the same kind that you repeatedly accused everyone else of not offering up?

These links are not even close to being peer-reviewed. Not the same ballpark. Heck, not even the same game! Is hypocrisy simply just lost on you? Or do you actually not even know what peer-reviewed means? Because you keep using that phrase, but I don't think it means what you think it means...

That said, you're in luck! This is a college town, and there is no shortage of courses that you could take to clear this confusion up! No reason to be willfully ignorant, right?

App_Mtn

Add to the dictionary: Faucism (faus-izem) – The belief that everything said by Dr Fauci and the CDC is absolute truth, regardless of its scientific, medical, or humanitarian value or provability. Faucism is often characterized by the tendencies to take everything said by Dr Fauci and/or the CDC literally and without question and to be totally oblivious to any other material or authority; as well as the troubling trait of attacking or working to discredit anyone who doubts or wishes to verify. Note: faucism is most frequently found amongst populaces under communist rule and dictatorships.

Kinney R. Baughman

My, my, my! Such hyperbolic and unsubstantiated claims. Faucism, I presume, is to be compared to the authority coming from the voices in your head?

If you're so opposed to the opinions of a career epidemiologist, a man who has spent his career studying infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis and malaria as well as Ebola and Zika then surely you can point us to someone who has more professional standing and whose opinion would have more authority than his?

Hubris

Add to the dictionary: Trumpism (trump-izem) – The belief that everything said by Donald Trump, former New York real estate developer and soon to be indicted former president, regardless of its truthfulness, logic, rationality, or actual basis in fact and/or data. Trumpism is often characterized by tendencies to take everything said by Mr Trump and/or his lackeys as the truth without question and to be totally oblivious to any other reality; as well as the troubling trait of attacking anyone who points out the often obvious inanity of his statements - especially if they happens to actually know what they're talking about. Note: Trumpism is most frequently found amongst populaces who are easily manipulated, quantitatively challenged, and prone to not engaging in critical thinking. Unchecked, Trumpism easily leads to fascism.

Seriously though, App_Mtn, that was meant as cogent discussion? What are you, 11 years old?

thechaosaysmuuuu

Define communism and properly apply said definition to your oh-so-witty comment.

I dare you.

guest83

Communism, the thing that someone told me is bad and evil of which I have no understanding. "Trust me" is good enough. ; )

thechaosaysmuuuu

By the way. Great to see ya again, Ultimate Sleep! Afraid that your anti-vax rhetoric and refusal to engage in intelligent discussion might hurt your business?

Don't get me wrong, I sincerely hope it doesn't (truly, no matter how reprehensible I find your BS), but I can't help but find it downright hilarious that you've now changed your name twice in the last week...

guest83

Here's the thing about science, App_Mtn, it doesn't rely on the opinion of any one person or entity, because, and here's the tricky part, science takes research, data, fact and yes, expertise. Those of us with critical thinking skills and knowledge reject silly notions like "faucism" because they lack critical thought. To my knowledge, communist rule and dictatorships are having some of the worst pandemic problems because they shun fact and prefer propaganda. You know, like the phrase "faucism".

Comment deleted.
Kinney R. Baughman

"Diseased illegals" is just the latest Red Herring being bandied about by the worst governors in the US, Texas and Florida, both of whom are leading the nation in Covid cases.

It's a pathetic attempt to cast blame on POC without looking in the mirror and noticing that we're mostly a white nation, the Republican Party is mostly a white party and has been leading the charge fighting the science instead of the virus.

We're still in the pandemic because we have certain news organizations and a huge swath of the population spreading disinformation - sorry, lies - about this disease and what the effective tools are to fight it. Instead we have too many people advancing a false narrative just to score pitifully pathetic political points. Desperate people trying to escape death, lawlessness and poverty in their home countries way down there in Texas can't possibly account for the rise in cases across the entire US. Get real.

So get the vaccine. Put your masks back on. And let's please, please, please work together to put this God-forsaken pandemic behind us once and for all. If we learned anything this past year, it should be that mounting disingenuous half-hearted defenses, taking advice from uneducated, misguided conspiracy theorists or cynical newscasters and politicians with political agendas instead of professional epidemiologists gives the virus the upper hand, leaving all us at its mercy.

This shouldn't be that hard.

thechaosaysmuuuu

"Furgiuele likened the mask mandate to smoking and how secondhand smoke affects people.

“If it were only about them, then go for it,” Furgiuele said. “But what we've learned over the last decades is that even smoking has impacts on other people. I agree that we have a moral responsibility to try to protect the public. It's the innocent people that I think we’re legislating for if we take action.”"

So wait...I'm confused. Why did you then vote against this measure?

Kinney R. Baughman

I've talked with Sam.

Also under discussion was whether to mandate masks outdoors and indoors, one way aisles and social distancing, especially indoors, to the language. There was opposition to doing that. He opposed it because he didn't think the ordinance went far enough. I agree with him but we're both happy we at least got the mask mandate back in place.

I'm feel and am hoping businesses will revert to the rules of old. I notice most businesses still have the 6' markers in place, especially at registers.

At least with a mandate being re-imposed, it gives businesses something to fall back on when confronted with people who still, after all this time, somehow believe masks don't help. They're more important now than ever before because the Delta variant replicates inside the lungs a 1000 times more rapidly and spreads 10 times more effectively.

Mask up everyone. If we don't pull together on this, many will surely die apart. If for no other reason, mask up to take the load off our health care workers. They are at their breaking point.

thechaosaysmuuuu

Gotcha. Thanks a million for clarifying this!

Comment deleted.
thechaosaysmuuuu

Once again, I must ask: What made you such a sad, miserable, cruel human being?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.