While COVID-19 case numbers are on the rise in Camden County, the commission has no plans to implement a county-wide mask ordinance. For now, the county will rely on state guidelines and has no plans to get involved on a local level in the debate over requiring masks.

While COVID-19 case numbers are on the rise in Camden County, the commission has no plans to implement a county-wide mask ordinance. For now, the county will rely on state guidelines and has no plans to get involved on a local level in the debate over requiring masks. 

Earlier this week, the Camden County Health Department said the total case count since March was 374, with 8 deaths. The numbers had leveled off but as the summer season got underway, there has been an increase.    Surrounding counties are also seeing an upward trend. Miller County has recorded 140 cases. Morgan County has had 91 cases. Miller and Morgan have each had one death from the coronavirus.
Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty said the commission has discussed the mask issue informally as cities and counties in some areas of the state have implemented ordinances.    "As you know, the wearing of masks is very controversial. It is the consensus of the Camden County Commission that the state guidelines should be followed at this time and the state guidelines to not require the wearing of masks," Hasty said. "If the state guidelines change or conditions worsen in Camden County and pressure mounts for the mandating of masks then the commission will address the issue formally and welcome community input."   Associate Commissioner Don Williams said  over the last several weeks, he has  received multiple phone calls and emails and have had quite a few in-person conversations about the subject.  Some people are in favor of a county ordinance requiring face masks in public areas.   "But the overwhelming majority of the people I have spoken with are actually speaking out against the idea.  I believe my fellow commissioners have had similar experiences," Williams said. "We have had several brief, informal discussions about this within the commission office but that’s as far as it has gone.  The public seems to be strongly against it."

Since early May, the commission has been offering the public both reusable and disposable face masks as well as hand sanitizer for free through the health department.  

To date, the county has given away around 80,000 face masks to schools, businesses, all kinds of local organizations and citizens.  The county purchased 100,000 disposable face masks in May and is in the process of purchasing 100,000 more.  Camden County has also given away about 5,000 cloth, reusable masks and over 600 gallons of hand sanitizer as well as a lot of medical grade PPE (personal protective equipment) to first responders, nursing homes and schools.