Columbia County imposes mask mandate for employees, visitors in all buildings
Natasha Vaughn-Holdridge is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media that Columbia County officials have imposed a mask requirement in all county buildings, effective Aug. 30. All county employees and visitors must now wear a mask or face-covering indoors at all county buildings when in direct contact with customers or the public when physical distancing is not possible. Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chair Matt Murell and county Department of Health Director Jack Mabb sent a joint memo to employees last week announcing the mask requirement. The mandate applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Signs informing people of the policy upon entering county buildings will be posted, Murell said. The mask mandate will remain in place as long as the county's level of community transmission is classified as substantial or high by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At present, Columbia County has a high level of community transmission. “Basically, this came about as a result of a conversation on the chairman’s call,” Mabb said. “My position has to be as a public health director, that it’s a prudent step to take right now when our numbers are high and there’s a lot of transmission in the community. ...” According to the CDC, as of early August 27, 92.36 percent of all counties nationwide are at a high level of community transmission. Once the transmission rate lessens, vaccinated county employees and visitors will no longer be required to mask up; however, the requirement will continue for the unvaccinated. Mabb said Columbia’s mask decision grew out of an increase in the number of new cases reported. The county reported 63 new cases during the week of August 14 to 20. As of mid-day August 27, the weekly total had jumped to 85. The county Department of Health will conduct a vaccination pod September 15 in the Fair Building at the county fairgrounds in Chatham from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Mabb said. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.