‘Consider your neighbor’

Clallam commissioners support face masks against COVID-19

PORT ANGELES — Mask up and get the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t done so to protect yourself, your loved ones and Clallam County businesses, the three commissioners said Tuesday.

Chairman Mark Ozias opened the weekly business meeting by expressing support for a countywide mask mandate for indoor public spaces that took effect Monday.

He defended Clallam and Jefferson county’s public health officer Dr. Allison Berry’s decision to implement the order.

“I just want to acknowledge that the commissioners support this move,” Ozias said.

“As Dr. Berry outlined in her emergency briefing on Friday, the rate of COVID in our community is extremely distressing right now.”

Ozias cited statistics from the Clallam County Health Department’s website that showed Clallam County’s COVID-19 case rate was 392 per 100,000.

“I would hope that the numbers that we’re seeing, the increasing number of deaths, the increasing number of hospitalizations and the impact that this is having will encourage everyone to consider that wearing masks is the most effective, least intrusive step that we can all take to care about each other, to care about ourselves, and importantly, to help our businesses stay open,” Ozias said.

“Nobody wants to see any steps taken that negatively impact the business community, which has suffered so much over the past year.”

Commissioners donned face coverings July 27 to support Berry’s advice and have worn masks in subsequent meetings.

Ozias acknowledged “a lot of frustration out in the community” around masks when Berry suggested resumed mask-wearing late last month.

“I really encourage everyone who is struggling with wearing a mask right now for whatever reason that is to consider your neighbor, to consider your friends, to consider your family and to consider all of those businesses that make this community what it is,” Ozias said Tuesday.

“And wearing a mask at this point is the best thing that you can do to help them.”

Commissioner Bill Peach said about 90 percent of the new cases in Clallam County were people who had not been vaccinated.

“I would continue to emphasize vaccinations are the first and foremost thing one needs to do, as well as our continuation of masking up, No. 1,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said.

“And No. 2, Dr. Berry, the commissioners, everyone is well aware that our businesses are at a precipice, and we don’t want to put them on the wrong side of that, and we thought about let’s keep our businesses open to the extent possible.

“So that’s an important part of any criteria,” Johnson added.

“But obviously, with the current rate as high as it is, it’s a concern to everyone.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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