Erie County leaders, residents discuss mask mandate

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Right now masks are required inside any Erie County-run building.

That includes DMV offices. Monday, Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns sent a letter to County Executive Mark Poloncarz, calling this mandate a – quote – half measure which ignores the data.

“Covid-19 does not stop at the clerk’s office. It doesn’t just stop there it’s in all buildings. So what I’m asking for is a consistent policy,” Kerns said.

Kearns says his message to Poloncarz is clear. Follow the science.

“I am not aware of any scientific evidence which demonstrates that covid-19 may only be spread within the walls of public buildings owned or operated by the County of Erie.”

Poloncarz implemented this policy last week after the county hit the CDC’s benchmark for substantial risk.

Kearns says it’s frustrating for vaccinated residents who can walk into a grocery store without a mask but must put one on to renew their license.

” I’m not asking for a universal mask mandate, what I’m asking for is a standard mandate, a consistent mandate.”

In a statement released last week, Poloncarz said while masks aren’t needed in non-county buildings, they’re highly recommended.

News 4 asked vaccinated shoppers their thoughts on wearing a mask again. Some who did not want to go on camera said they wouldn’t be happy and felt like it was going backward, but others say it’s common sense.

“We did take our mask off for a while when they said it was ok. But now that I’m hearing that this is starting to really spread, so now I’m wearing my mask,” said Rose, who we spoke with shopping at Tops.

Monday, Niagara County reached the CDC’s substantial risk category. In a statement, legislature chairwoman Becky Wydysh says officials will look into how this could impact county buildings, but at this time they are not issuing a mandatory face mask policy for all of the county.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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