Schor: More city staffers must get sick to bring back mask mandate

Lansing mayor doubles down on relaxed mask requirements at City Hall

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 17 — Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has decided that too few city employees have been infected with COVID-19 to warrant a universal mask mandate at City Hall. That requirement will only return if case numbers continue to rise, he explained today.

“If cases among employees rise, Mayor Schor would strongly consider reinstating the mask mandate for all employees working in city facilities. We remain confident that city workers know that being vaccinated, along with masks and social distancing, especially when dealing with the public, remain the best ways to prevent further spread of the virus,” according to an emailed statement released today from the Mayor’s Office. “If internal case numbers go up, Mayor Schor will make a determination at that time to protect both city workers and visitors to our facilities.”

Schor’s office couldn’t immediately cite how many city employees have tested positive for the coronavirus as caseloads surge across Greater Lansing, Michigan and much of the Midwest. He also didn’t elaborate on how many employees needed to catch COVID-19 before masks return.

And while the issue will stay a “top conversation” in Schor’s office as city officials track the recent viral surge, vaccinated staff and visitors will not be required to wear masks at City Hall — even while local hospitals are nearly full with at least 142 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Ingham County Health Department all recommend masks be worn indoors in areas of the country federally designated as “high” risk.

Every county in Michigan (and across most of the Midwest) was still ranked in the CDC’s “high risk” category for coronavirus transmission this week — which specifically comes along with guidance to implement indoor mask mandates in public. In Ingham County, that was evidenced by 1,023 COVID-19 cases and 10 related deaths tracked last week, according to state data. 

And despite a clear recommendation from Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail to reconsider the policy shift on Tuesday, Schor said he has no immediate plans to bring it back.

In an interview this morning, she again took Schor to task over today’s reactive explanation.

“The CDC guidelines are not about how much transmission you have in your workplace,'' Vail explained. “It all has to do with community transmission. Our obligation is to protect people. Waiting for people to get sick and spread it in the workplace is not what masking is about.”

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