Pratt County officials opt out of mandated mask wear

Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune
The wearing of masks to protect others from potential coronavirus spread is still recommended in Pratt County, even though county commissioners voted to not make a recent governor's proclamation mandatory in the county.

Officially, Pratt County has opted out of the governor’s have-to-wear masks proclamation on July 2. At a special meeting July 3, the Pratt County commissioners, after consulting with county health authorities, voted unanimously for the opt out, said Pratt County Commissioner Glenna Borho. 

Wearing masks are not mandatory but they are still highly recommended in areas where safe distancing can’t be done, Borho said.

As of July 3, 11 positive cases of COVID-19 have been recoreded in Pratt County and six have recovered. Moreover, the community spread has not been identified within Pratt County, according to the press release from the Pratt County Health Department and Director of Public Health Darci Van Der Vyver. 

Pratt County Economic Development Director Heather Morgan has been closely following the state’s action on COVID-19. She said wearing masks is not a short term thing but could last at least a month or longer. 

At the end of their first budget planning session, the commissioners reviewed the Governor’s proclamation and determined they needed to visit with Van Der Vyver and Pratt County Health Officer Dr. Gene Cannata before making any official decision on wearing masks.

While the governors decision is law, Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White said that no one was going to be arrested if they chose to not wear a mask. 

Pratt County Counsel Tyson Eisenhauer agreed and said no one is going to get arrested and no one is going to be handing out tickets. 

However, if a person deliberately does something that puts the public in danger, such as being told by a doctor to go home and self quarantine for two weeks but goes out to Walmart or Dillons and goes shopping without taking proper safety precautions, action could be taken against the person for endangering the public. 

“We’re only going to enforce it if its a problem,” said Pratt County Counselor Tyson Eisenhauer. “We reserve the right to enforce if necessary.” 

Pratt County Attorney Traci Beverlin said she favors educating people about the dangers of the virus. But if there are issues with someone that has tested positive and is not complying with quarantine rules, she would be open to having conversations about enforcement.