Jefferson County Health Officer has drafted ‘mask order,’ says he does not have political support


(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

October 02 2021 06:00 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson has said that he has drafted a “county-wide face mask order,” but does not have political support for it. He has also said that he worries such an order would “backfire.”

Wilson made the comments in a virtual presentation held by the Birmingham Business Alliance on Tuesday.

“I have drafted orders for a county-wide face mask order. That’s one of the main things I’ve been thinking about,” he said in the meeting. “But — I’m just going to be real blunt with you — I don’t have political support either from the state or locally.”

State law says that county health officers have the power to “institute immediate measures to prevent the spread of…disease” as long as a report is made “to the chairman of the county board of health and to the State Health Officer.”

Jefferson County Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Hicks told CBS 42 Friday that while it may be possible to issue a mask order without the approval of State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, Jefferson County has chosen not to do so in the past.

In his comments, Wilson said he is also concerned about what impact a face mask order would actually have.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of elected officials, and I’m afraid that just another order coming from me or from ‘big brother’ may backfire,” he said.

Wilson has been publicly vocal about issues involving COVID-19. Last week, he asked a pointed question on Twitter that garnered significant attention on the social media site.

On Thursday, Wilson issued a “call to action” to owners and operators of indoor public spaces that strongly recommended the use of face coverings in such venues.

“For the next month, require or strongly recommend the use of face coverings in indoor spaces where people from different households come in contact with each other,” he requested in the letter. “Place signs notifying people of that requirement or strong recommendation at each entrance.”

Wilson had gone even further in his earlier message to members of the Birmingham Business Alliance.

“I’m begging for your help because I need your help,” he said. “People are not listening to me anymore. People are simply going to ignore orders coming from me. I’m willing to do it – I’m willing to die on that sword, but I’m really more concerned about how we get the result that we want – what works best.”

You can view Wilson’s full presentation below. His comments mentioned above begin around 54:20.

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