The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors voted, 2-1, to end the countywide mask mandate during an emergency meeting May 14, after changed guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC issued surprise guidance on May 13, stating that fully vaccinated individuals need no longer wear face coverings in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in most instances. Supervisors quickly called for an emergency meeting for this evening.
Supervisor Jay Wickham moved to repeal the mandate, following public input.
“Now that the CDC has reviewed the science — five to six months of data, with tens of millions of people vaccinated — they have come to the decision that masks are not needed for those people fully vaccinated,” he said. “So, for me, the decision is easy. On behalf of the 44,000 people in Dubuque County who are vaccinated, we should end the mask mandate today.”
The board of supervisors’ action impacts only areas of Dubuque County outside the limits of the City of Dubuque. Within the city, a local mask mandate is still currently in effect.
Supervisor Harley Pothoff too said it was time to end the mandate as a reward for those who have been vaccinated, as well as those who have health conditions which prevent them from either being vaccinated or wearing a mask.
Supervisor Ann McDonough, however, thought the action was too quick a response for the county to make.
Members of the Dubuque County Board of Health, during public input, had opposed the supervisors taking the action, asking that they instead wait for the board of health’s meeting on the subject next week.
Board of Health Chairman Tom Bechen asked that supervisors honor the plan for his board to make a recommendation.
“The guidance from the CDC says that anyone who has been fully vaccinated (no longer needs to wear face coverings),” he said. “That’s the minority of the people in this county. We have committed to reviewing the status of the mask mandate on the 19th.”
McDonough read a statement from Board of Health member, and infectious disease expert, Dr. Hendrik Schultz, who could not be present.
“The whole process leaves me with the impression that the recommendations worked on by all board of health members in past weeks are irrelevant to the board of supervisors,” Schultz wrote. “If you as a board are already set on a decision, regardless of the input that health care professionals and scientists can offer you, you do not need a board of health.”