Supervisors consider making masks the law


By Patsy Nicosia

Maybe it’s time for Schoharie County to follow the lead of Oneida County with a law that makes masks mandatory.
That’s the suggestion Carlisle Supervisor John Leavitt made Friday and it’s one that has the backing of Public Health head Amy Gildemeister.
At the end of April, Oneida County signed an executive order requiring everyone to wear masks or face coverings in stores as a way to slow its increase in COVID-19 numbers—378 positives and 15 deaths.
As of Friday, there were 44 positive COVID cases here and one death.
Mr. Leavitt said he’s still seeing a lot of noncompliance with the state’s Executive Order at places like Stewart’s in particular and maybe it’s time for the county to make it the business’s responsibility to enforce the mask requirement.
Local Stewart’s Shops do have signs on their front doors asking customers to wear masks or face coverings, but especially mornings, compliance looks to be less than 50 percent.
At supervisors’ May 6 Task Force meeting, Dr. Gildemeister said she’s had numerous complaints about Stewart’s not enforcing masks and social distancing and employees have said they don’t have to enforce it unless the county mandates it.
“I know of other county’s that…actually passed a local law making it the responsibility of the business,” Mr. Leavitt said.
“Have we reached out to any of the other businesses that aren’t making people comply?”
So far, Dr. Gildemeister said, those kinds of complaints have been treated as Code Enforcement issues, and though she’s seeing more people wearing masks and she’s counting on social pressure to increase compliance, but she called a local law a great idea; it’s one the COVID Task Force could look into.