Summit County Council Member Chris Robinson agrees with his colleagues about not implementing a limited mask order, after the state mandate expires on Saturday, April 10.
But despite some heated comments directed at the council last Wednesday, Robinson still says the county needs to encourage masking up, including with private businesses, and continue vaccinations so even private mask requirements can be lifted in the future.
Robinson said he doesn’t think the critics of the mask mandates speak for most of the county’s residents.
“I work for them, and the rest of the public,” he said. “And we like to hear from our constituents, even though maybe we were a little short-tempered with some of them yesterday. And I think they represent, those that spoke, a very small subset of the community. I think on the flip side of that, we had many people concerned that we weren’t rolling vaccines out fast enough and wanting to get vaccinated.”
He said the speakers represented some pent-up emotion that found a platform before the council on Wednesday. Robinson said he can understand their complaints about the past year of Covid restrictions.
“All of us have experienced, including myself, some mental anguish at times,” he said. “This has not been an easy year-plus. And I’m sympathetic to that and to those that have suffered in businesses and kids trying to get an education. But I think in the big picture, the steps that we’ve taken, and that the state has taken, and that the nation has taken, are the right ones.”
Robinson said he thinks most local residents and businesses have supported the county and state mask mandates.
Robinson, who was scheduled to receive his first dose of the vaccine after his interview, said he will continue to wear a mask in public.
Councilor Doug Clyde, meanwhile, deplored anti-vaccine sentiments among the speakers. He mentioned a health initiative that is still incomplete: the eradication of polio.
“Rotary has been involved in trying to eradicate polio, which is done by a very simple vaccine, that has been around since Glenn and I were kids,” he said. “We have come so close, so incredibly close, to eradicating that disease. And at every time, we are foiled by some individual in a community who believes that vaccines are the work of the Devil. They will not get vaccinated, and guess what? Polio has not been eliminated. We can do it in a year if it wasn’t for this sort of misinformation. And I would have to say that the information, some of the testimony that we’re hearing today is exactly the same. You need to take the health and welfare of the people who are in your community more seriously than your own prejudices.”
Council Chairman Glenn Wright said the county has come a long way in the past year.
“We are in a battle between vaccination and the variants,” he said. “While there are some people who think it’s not important that our younger generation be vaccinated, and because of that masks are not important because they typically do not get seriously sick, a small percentage do get significantly sick. And if you look at the state website, you’ll see that the age of 15 to 24 has the highest incident rate of Covid incidences in the state. They are the spreaders of this disease within our society. And until we get herd immunity amongst our population, we are in danger.
“So I will emphasize the fact that it ain’t over till it’s over. I would not like to see anybody from our county be the last Covid death in this endeavor.”