Dougherty Co. reinstates mask requirement, city follows

The mask policy is for all Dougherty County buildings and facilities.
The mask policy is for all Dougherty County buildings and facilities.(source: WALB)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 11:54 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - A mask policy is back in effect for all Dougherty County buildings and facilities, according to a release from the county.

County officials said with the current increase in COVID-19 cases in Dougherty County, a “mask required” policy is back in effect for all county buildings and facilities.

“Vaccinated or not, all employees and citizens entering county buildings and facilities will be required to wear a mask,” the release states, citing a 50% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Dougherty County.

“In reverting back to this policy, we are considering the rise in the number of positive cases in our community and taking every precaution to protect our employees and everyone entering our county buildings and facilities,” Michael McCoy, Dougherty County administrator, said.

Albany City manager Steven Carter made the decision following Dougherty County’s reversal on previously lifted mask requirements. Effective immediately, masks will be required for anyone in all city and county-owned and/or operated buildings.

Commissioner Chad Warbington says the city manager is within his full authority to implement the requirement.

City leaders plan to keep a close eye on COVID-19 cases in Albany. If cases continue to climb, the council could choose to issue a mask mandate via an ordinance for the entire city and not just government buildings.

Right now, there are no plans or discussions about implementing a citywide mask mandate.

“Both city and county, we’re continuing to make decisions day by day {in response} to the pandemic,” Warbington said. “We appreciate our city manager and our county administrator quickly making decisions for the safety and security of our employees and citizens.”

On July 20, Albany City Commissioners rolled back restrictions for mask-wearing in government-owned buildings in a 5-2 vote. This decision was based on Dougherty County previously lifting restrictions.

Albany Mayor Bo Dorough said because the city and county share facilities, the mask mandate could not be enforced.

Commissioners Jon Howard and Demetrius Young were the lone two votes against lifting the restrictions. The two commissioners also spoke against the decision and pointed to the high number of COVID-19 cases the community saw last year and the increased threat of the delta variant.

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