Groden says Greene County is without the resources needed to enforce mask mandate
Andrea Macko is reporting for Porcupine Soup Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden has gone on record, saying the county will not enforce the state mask mandate that goes into effect Mon., Dec. 13, saying the county does not have the staffing to do so. Gov. Kathy Hochul said last week that masks must now be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. Violations are subject to civil and criminal penalties, including fines up to $1,000, Hochul said. The mandate is intended to support the effort underway to minimize a COVID-19 winter surge. Local health departments are being asked to enforce the requirements. “We just don’t have the staffing,” Groden said. “Secondly, the state was not definitive regarding our responsibility because Greene is a county under 50,000 residents and therefore, we do not have a full-fledged Public Health Department. Some of our functions, like environmental health, are conducted by other agencies.” Under the new mandate, businesses and venues can either implement a proof of vaccination requirement or a mask requirement. According to state data on December 10, 26,985 of Greene County’s estimated 47,491 residents are fully vaccinated. Greene County Legislative Chairman Patrick Linger said the county has historically chosen to be educational rather than punitive. “I expect the same,” Linger said. “The fines/enforcement are part of Public Health Law where violation of DOH regulations are concerned. Yes, it's up to municipalities to enforce and/or fine.” Linger said, “Before we take that step, I'd like some confirmation of the science involved in determining [that] reverting to this mask mandate slows a spread,” On Friday, Groden advised county employees that effective Monday all staff, even those who are vaccinated, must wear a mask in public areas, such as restrooms and hallways, and always when interacting with the public and other employees. If more than one person is in a county vehicle, masks must be worn and also at a workstation within three to six feet of other staff. All visitors to county buildings are also required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. The state mandate is effective until January 15. Read more at porcupinesoup [dot] com.