Since Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order requiring face masks in public, the Thomas Jefferson Health District (TJHD) has fielded dozens of calls of violations from Greene County.
Executive Order 63 requires all patrons age 10 and older to wear masks inside: restaurants, except while eating; brick and mortar retail establishments; entertainment businesses, including amusement parks when social distancing cannot be maintained; personal care and grooming businesses; public transportation; and state and local government buildings. Additionally, it requires employees of retail businesses to wear masks when in customer facing areas. The Virginia Department of Health was put in charge of enforcement of the order.
Since June 15, there have been 163 complaints about Greene County businesses, according to a report from TJHD, which was obtained by the Greene County Record through an open records request. The businesses with the most complaints for violations in Greene County include Walmart (20) and Food Lion (18). Remedies for these and most others were phone calls or letters sent to the owners or corporate offices that include the governor’s order.
There have also been seven complaints about the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, but the majority of the complaints were marked as not actionable because it wasn’t a specific incident that the person encountered but instead pointing the health district to news reports and Facebook posts. Someone from the health district did speak to the sheriff on Aug. 24, according to the report.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield testified earlier this month before Congress, saying the CDC recommends face masks as the best weapon to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“Repeated testing of a majority of the U.S. population is not feasible at this time, nor necessary, to ensure a safe return to work, school and other activities,” he said. “Rather, a targeted testing strategy that rapidly diagnoses those who are ill, protects the vulnerable, and identifies emerging outbreak areas — when combined with public health mitigation measures like mask wearing – is proven to reduce the spread and flatten the curve.”
In an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association in July, Redfield said, “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”
A total of 252 people from Greene County have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since March, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. Three have passed away from the virus and 11 have needed to be hospitalized.
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