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Mask mandate compliance inconsistent

During the first week of the governor’s mandate that masks be worn in public places to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, compliance has been lacking. There are more people wearing them now than before the executive order at 5 p.m. Friday made it mandatory, but some people aren’t.

And some won’t.

“Some just aren’t going to be compliant,” said Julie Staton, whose family owns a country store at Pilot View.

She said their employees have been yelled at and cursed, and some have posted on social media that they won’t be back.

Staton also runs a vendor’s booth at the Winchester-Clark County Farmers’ Market for Staton Farms, and Saturday, she sold bottled water to two women who walked up to the sign that said masks were required and expected to be served.

“I don’t have time to argue with everybody who isn’t abiding by the law,” she said.

And she said she has been told by someone at the Clark County Health Department that it isn’t her job to enforce it.

“All I can do is refuse them service,” she said.

Many business people are reluctant to do that.

Kenny Allen, who owns In & Out BBQ on Main Street, said customers are supposed to be masked when they enter or are checking out, but they can’t eat while seated at the table if they’re wearing a mask.

“I don’t go around arguing with people about it,” he said.

Allen didn’t say whether he thought it should be a government order, but he thinks setting a good example is important.

He said that earlier in the day, a woman walked in without her mask, then went back out to her car and got it and put it on.

“The only reason she did that is because she saw my mask,” he said. “Some people respect that.”

Allen and Staton said there are only a few people now who aren’t wearing masks.

Staton said that at the farmers market, it was busy Saturday, and she saw only a handful of people without masks, maybe four or five.

But Greg McGuire of D&S Hardware said some customers have come into his store without wearing one since the mandate.

“I don’t think nobody likes it, but we don’t want to get sick,” he said.

Bill Kingsbury of Wildcat Willy’s, the restaurant and moonshine distillery on Broadway Street, said the mandate was necessary because most people weren’t wearing their masks when going into businesses.

Lindsay Salce, a nurse practitioner, was visiting the farmers’ market Saturday and was wearing her mask. But she said that she doesn’t know that it should be required outdoors.

According to Gov. Andy Beshear, it isn’t as long as people maintain social distancing of at least six feet.

They also don’t have to wear one if they are “encumbered” by a mental or physical condition that prevents them from doing so.

Children under 5 years are also not required to wear masks.

But Leslie Stump, who was shopping at the farmers’ market Saturday, had both of her 3-year-old twins masked, as she was.

“I don’t mind wearing a mask,” she said.

It makes her feel safer, she added.

Craig Stotts, who was running a vendor’s booth with his wife, Mollie, at the farmers’ market, said he doesn’t agree with the governor’s mandate.

“We believe in herd immunity. We want this to be like the flu,” he said.

Herd immunity occurs when a large segment of a community becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of it from person to person less likely, thus protecting the whole community. But according to the Mayo Clinic, in the case of COVID-19, the often deadly disease caused by the coronavirus, it hasn’t been determined that having had the disease makes one immune to getting it again.

Experts estimate that 70 percent of the U.S. population — about 200 million people — would have to get the disease and recover from it to halt the spread of it, and that could quickly overwhelm the health care system.

Stotts said he thinks the costs of requiring masks also outweigh the benefits from an economic standpoint. It will especially hurt small businesses, he said.

“If I have to do something, I’ll wear one, but if I don’t, I’ll stay home. I won’t spend money,” he said.

Mollie Stotts said most of the people she has talked with about wearing face coverings are OK with it, but “I know a lot of people who totally refuse.”

Clark County Attorney William Elkins said on his Facebook page in April that he wouldn’t wear a mask even if the governor ordered it, but he said Monday that if he had to go to a nursing home or somewhere he thought he needed to wear one, he would consider it.

Many business owners and managers would require masks for service, he said, even if the government didn’t tell them they had to do it.

“I think the mandate becomes the carrot and the stick for the owner to say ‘You can’t come in here unless you’re wearing a mask,’” he said.

Last week, Scott Circuit Judge Brian Privett issued a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit brought by Evans Orchard and Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles to prevent the governor from issuing public health mandates unless certain criteria were met.

According to the judge, “the governor or other person authorized by the governor shall specifically state the emergency that requires the order, the location of the emergency, and the name of the local emergency management agency that has determined that the emergency is beyond its capabilities.”

On Monday, the Kentucky Court of Appeals denied Beshear’s request that it overrule Privett as well as Boone Circuit Judge Richard Bruegemann in another case.

Asked whether he would enforce a complaint against a business that was not complying with the mandate, Elkins said: “I have so many genuine things I have to address that I’m going to save for another day the ones that might.”

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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