FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – After finishing a meeting with Tarrant County Commissioners Tuesday, County Judge Glen Whitley made an admission.
“Nobody hates wearing the mask any more than I do,” he said, speaking through a red, white and blue face covering, covered in Texas Rangers logos.
He still believes they make a difference in stopping COVID-19, however, something about a half dozen residents pushed back against during the county meeting.
Taking their masks off to speak to county leaders, they argued the county’s mask order, which was followed by a state order last week, was more about spreading fear than stopping the spread of the virus.
“I believe actions like this are setting a precedent for more tyrannical actions in the years to come,” Mitchell Blackburn said during his three minutes in front of commissioners.
Kyle Cobern asked what the end game of the order was.
“What is the number that we have to get to before we get to start living our lives again?” he asked.
The questions followed a presentation on virus activity in the county from public health director Vinny Taneja, which showed a continued rising trend of people going to hospital emergency departments with virus symptoms, and a rising number of patients with the virus in the hospital.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county rose to 15,595 Tuesday, with another 10 related deaths reported.
Taneja said the possibilities worry him.
He echoed previous reports from doctors and hospitals however that although case numbers are growing, patients are now generally not as sick.
That’s also being reflected in the death data. The county’s online data showed the 7-day moving average for deaths had dropped to 1.43, the lowest number since April 13.
Taneja attributed that to a younger demographic accounting for positive cases now. He also said there had been a shift in the largest source of positive cases, from clusters in institutional settings like jails and extended care facilities, to general community spread.
He cautioned though against any pull back on mask orders, or distancing recommendations, at the risk of testing hospital capacity.
Judge Whitley said that was why he was still supportive of masks, even though he doesn’t like them
“I’ll do just about anything to not have to close business down again. I think this is a small inconvenience.”