Amesbury Council asks Board of Health to consider mask mandate | News

AMESBURY – A temporary indoor public mask mandate could be on the horizon after city council voted 7-2 on Tuesday night to ask the Board of Health to take up the case.

General Councilor Steve Stanganelli sponsored a resolution that urges the board to call an emergency session, if necessary, to adopt an indoor mask mandate for all public places in the city until February 1.

The city has implemented a mask mandate for municipal buildings only. But Stanganelli cited the increase in COVID-19 cases in Amesbury and pointed to neighboring Newburyport, which he says has fewer cases and a mask warrant for all public buildings.

“In Newburyport, where they ordered an indoor mask warrant for private companies, their positivity rate was lower,” Stanganelli said. “Given the transmissibility of this variant, I am worried, other parents are concerned. I think the least we can do is provide this as a temporary public health measure. “

Stanganelli was joined by councilors Adrienne Lennon, Nicholas Wheeler, Scott Mandeville, Michael Hogg, Roger Deschenes and Jonathan Hickok to vote for the resolution on Tuesday night with councilors Anthony Rinaldi and Peter Frey opposing.

Fire Chief and Public Health Director Ken Berkenbush informed the council that the city tends to increase COVID-19 positivity numbers due to the omicron variant. But Berkenbush recounted some information he recently received from colleagues attending the efforts in Chicago and Detroit.

Berkenbush said the omicron variant is not as potent or as deadly as previous variants and will typically stay in a person’s nose and upper respiratory tract.

“It doesn’t appear to adhere to the lungs and appears to be just as deadly as the rest,” Berkenbush said. “So even though the numbers go up with a relatively good clip, I’m not necessarily too concerned about the overall effect. It’s kind of like a bad cold season right now.

Berkenbush said firefighters receive about two COVID-19 calls per day.

“A lot of these people are doing really well,” Berkenbush said. “They get a positive test and think they should go to the hospital and they really don’t.”

Deputy Chairman of the Board of Health Matthew Steinel told council his council could vote on the issue as early as January 20.

Lennon reminded council and the public that a resolution is non-binding and that the institution of a mask mandate would be the responsibility of the Board of Health.

“We have no authority whatsoever to request the institution of a mask warrant or the non-institution of a mask warrant,” Lennon said. “The discussion we are having here tonight is whether or not we are going to ask another body to discuss the matter and make a decision.”

Editor-in-Chief Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

Editor-in-Chief Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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