Laurens City Council held a special called meeting Tuesday night to discuss the ongoing battle with COVID-19.
Dr. Paul Moore, a local physician, updated the council on the cases in Laurens County Hospital. Currently, there are 21 people in the hospital with COVIID-19. One of those patients is on a ventilator. Medically, the hospital is stable and they are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, said Moore.
Dr. Moore said wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands regularly was the way to go to limit the spread of the disease. When asked about how effective the masks are, Dr. Moore stated that the N-95 mask was the most effective, surgical masks are the second most effective, and cloth masks are the third most effective but are “better than nothing.”
Other cities in South Carolina have passed an ordinance that people wear masks in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
City Attorney Tom Thompson opened the floor to the idea of making an ordinance as other cities have. He stated that he sent a strong letter to Mayor Nathan Seen asking for some things that are unreasonable but gave his opinion in favor of making an ordinance for the city of Laurens to make it mandatory for citizens to wear masks in public.
Councilmen Martin Lowry and Johnnie Bolt both stated that they do not want to pass an ordinance but favored a resolution that supports wearing a mask instead. Lowry believes it is an invasion of people’s civil liberties. He also said that he does not understand how the police can enforce such a policy. Bolt believes common sense should help people decide what situation requires wearing a mask.
Councilwoman Marian Miller believes that since Laurens has a high number of older residents, they as leaders should set an example when wearing a mask when they are on stores, etc.
Councilwoman Sara Latimore is in favor of masks but knows people are going to do what they want. She stated that she is at a higher risk and she will wear her mask. She also believes that if the leaders show the community that wearing a mask is the right thing to do, then more people will start doing it, whether it is with an ordinance or resolution.
Councilwoman Alicia Sullivan supports putting a law in place that people would have to wear a mask in a public building but not when they are outside unless it was a populated area outside. She also believes that they should take into consideration that Laurens has a large elderly population and only one hospital when deciding on an ordinance.
Mayor Nathan Senn presented a resolution to the city council supporting wearing masks. The resolution stated that “all the citizens and residents of Laurens City should utmost care in preventing the spread of infection in our city and throughout the community by following all current official guidance issued by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control concerning COVID-19; and In doing so, this patriotic exercise of civic duty, care of others, and unity in common effort toward the common good is recognized with honor and pride by the Mayor, Council, first responders, and the entire city government of the City of Laurens.
The resolution was passed unanimously by city council.