Assembly cancels mask ordinance meeting, though community set new COVID record

The borough assembly last Thursday canceled a special meeting called to consider a face mask ordinance, citing a decline in active COVID-19 cases in the community.

The decision to cancel the meeting came a day after Wrangell set a record for new COVID-19 infections in a month.

The meeting, which was to be held virtually, would have reenacted the requirement of face coverings in certain indoor settings. The draft ordinance also included a $25 penalty in municipal code for non-compliance — which the borough has never used — and strongly urged other mitigation actions to protect the public from the highly infectious virus.

Mayor Steve Prysunka said the special assembly meeting last Thursday, which the borough had announced on Monday, was intended as a contingency. The code requires at least a two-day notice of assembly meetings. If the active case count had not gone down, the meeting could have proceeded as scheduled.

The number of active cases declined between the meeting announcement and the day of the meeting, from 41 on Tuesday to 30 by Thursday.

“When we spoke with the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) — the vice mayor and I, on Monday — we saw an accelerating rate of the daily count,” Prysunka said. “The determination was to put the meeting in place as a placeholder.”

The borough assembly later felt the high exposure period was over, he said. If the case count accelerates again, the borough could schedule another meeting, the mayor said.

In the meantime, Prysunka said the borough is encouraging voluntary compliance of masking and mitigation measures such as social distancing, and “hopefully we’ll hold this at bay.”

As of Tuesday this week, Wrangell was up to 58 COVID cases for the month, surpassing the previous record of 48 set in August.

Jeff Good, interim borough manager, said he was instructed to cancel the meeting because the borough assembly is trying to be adaptable and felt there had been a sufficient drop in active cases.

“For now, the assembly wanted to hold off on putting it up for a vote,” Good said.

As of the night before the meeting, one person had signed up to speak under persons to be heard, said Robbie Marshall, acting borough clerk.

“The (case) numbers have steadied and decreased over the past few days, so it was decided to cancel the assembly meeting for tonight,” the borough said in a prepared statement the day of the meeting it canceled. “However, our numbers are still at an all-time high and the EOC strongly urges everyone to remain vigilant as we work to get our case count down.”

The community has tallied 214 cases since the pandemic count started in March 2020, with almost 25% of those this month, according to Tuesday's numbers from the borough.


Reader Comments(0)