Kill Devil Hills Considering Mandatory Face Masks to Fight COVID-19 Spread
The Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners discussed the possibility of a mandatory requirement that everyone where a cloth face covering anytime they are in public within the town to help slow the spread of COVID-19 at Monday’s (6/8/20) board meeting, which was once again held electronically over Zoom and broadcast live on social media.
Commissioner Terry Gray said he has been contacted by a number of businesses in the area with concerns that there has been an increase in the amount of positive COVID-19 tests that North Carolina is experiencing currently.
“I’ve been requested to bring forward at least an initiative that mandatory mask wearing be something that possibly (KDH Mayor Ben Sproul) can take to the (Dare County) Control Group or at least communicate with the county chairman and see if we can get some traction on that,” Gray said during Monday’s meeting.
Kill Devil Hills Mayor Ben Sproul said he has heard from Nags Head Mayor Ben Cahoon that Nags Head’s board is also considering mandatory mask wearing.
“It was discussed in the Control Group,” Sproul said, “and the chairman changed a mandatory status to highly recommended in the most recent change. So it is possible that we can work in that direction as a town if that is the feeling of the board.”
“I will say that I have a bit of a mixed feeling on it,” Sproul continued. “On one hand, obviously it would be best if more mask wearing was happening. I think science supports that as being helpful to health and safety. On the other hand, it’s a very difficult thing to enforce and when people want things that are difficult to enforce enforced, they will call and we as a town have a history of being kind of complaint driven, which isn’t ideal. I think in this case it kind of sets up conflict with people. Anyway, there are some down sides to it. let’s just say that. That said, I’m just one person, and certainly there are a lot of people out there who think a mandatory mask move would be a good idea.”
Gray added, “The thing that kind of sparked …some of the thought process is that in Virginia they have mandatory mask wearing and their numbers are going down, and in North Carolina the numbers are going up.”
Sproul later agreed, “I definitely see that the positive side of mask wearing is pretty undeniable.”
Town Attorney Casey Varnell explained that if the county adopts an order, it would apply specifically to the county (unincorporated Dare), but if the town wants to move in its own direction in requiring masks, Kill Devil Hills would need to adopt its own declaration regarding that. “Any order adopted by a county is only effective as to its unincorporated limits,” he said. “(In) any incorporated limits …county orders actually do not apply in emergency situations.”
Sproul said he would connect with Nags Head’s mayor further as to what they plan to do. “If we speak with one voice through several municipalities, a coordinated effort certainly would be more ideal.”
Commissioner Ivy Ingram, expressed her support for mandatory mask wearing, while Commissioner B.J. McAvoy said that while he recognizes the clear benefits to mask wearing, he would be hesitant to make it “mandatory.” Commissioner John Windley said he supports the idea of a coordinated effort with county and all municipalities regarding mask wearing, including clear instructions on how businesses should handle people who flat out refuse to comply.
The commissioners agreed that they will discuss the issue further at their recessed meeting at Town Hall this Wednesday, June 10.
The board also consented that Kill Devil Hills will look into providing window clings urging mask wearing to businesses within the town.