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Majority of SLCo Council appears ready to overturn mask order

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Posted at 11:40 AM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 16:42:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY  — A majority of the Salt Lake County Council will vote to overturn the health department's K-6 mask mandate, it appears.

READ: Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News endorse mask order for K-6 students in Salt Lake Co.

In a statement ahead of a critical vote on Thursday afternoon, Council member Richard Snelgrove said he would vote to overturn the mask mandate issued for children under age 12 in schools by Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Dr. Angela Dunn.

His vote brings it to five, a majority needed to overturn the mandate, according to a review of public statements and social media posts by council members.

"I have received thousands of emails and many phone calls from parents seeking relief from the mask mandate for their children who they say have experienced psychological and emotional trauma due to their use. They earnestly plead with me that the decision of mask usage should be left to them as parents. I agree that the decision to wear or not wear a mask should be left to caring and loving parents who are best equipped to make the proper decision for their children's physical, psychological and emotional health," Snelgrove said in a statement.

READ: Private schools included in Salt Lake Co. mask order for K-6 students

"I cannot and should not second guess a parent's judgment. Therefore, in what I believe is the best interest of our children's wellbeing, I will vote to overturn the mask mandate. For those parents who support the use of masks, please remember that N-95 masks are available to all children free of charge."

Council Chair Steve DeBry told FOX 13 on Wednesday he would vote to overturn it. In social media posts, Council members Dave Alvord, Dea Theodore and Aimee Winder-Newton suggested they would do the same, preferring to leave it to parents to decide whether their children should wear masks.

As COVID-19 cases surge, Dr. Dunn issued the mandate to try to protect unvaccinated people when children return to in-person instruction. Under a law passed by the legislature earlier this year, a health department can issue a mandate — but a legislative body such as a county council or commission can override it.

Concerned about a potential surge in the virus coinciding with back-to-school, Governor Spencer Cox has ordered the state to purchase a KN95 mask for every child in public schools.

This is a breaking news story. Updates on FOX 13 and fox13now.com