PROVO, Utah — The Utah County Board of Commissioners postponed its meeting on Wednesday due to people refusing to wear masks or practice social distancing.
Two out of three commissioners, including Tanner Ainge and Nathan Ivie voted for the meeting to be postponed due to health concerns.
“This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing. We are supposed to be physically distancing, wearing masks,” Ainge told the crowd as they booed him.
“I’m pretty disappointed honestly in some of the people in our county today,” Ivie said. “We had far too many bodies in a condensed area. Not just for COVID, but for fire code restrictions.”
Commissioner Bill Lee voted for the meeting to carry on.
“We could have proceeded, but we didn’t,” Lee said. “They didn’t follow (guidelines). It happens.”
Lee went on to say that he voted against postponing the meeting because he felt like the commissioners could have found a way to move the meeting somewhere else that would allow people to socially distance outside.
“Number one is social distancing,” Lee said. “We did not have that! Social distancing is number one.”
The meeting was packed as members of the public expected commissioners to vote on a proposal that would have sent a letter to Governor Gary Herbert on behalf of Utah County. Lee wanted the letter to ask for an exception to the statewide mask mandate for K-12 schools.
One woman appeared to be so upset with the decision that she needed to receive medical attention.
UPDATE 3: There's now an ambulance on scene.— Adam Herbets (@AdamHerbets) July 15, 2020
One of the protesters appeared to become so upset she needed medical attention. https://t.co/2cG841WLCi
“(The debate) has risen to a level that I think demands conversation,” Lee said.
Both Ainge and Ivie indicated they would not have voted in favor of sending the letter.
“I’ve actually had the opportunity to speak with the governor’s office, and they have confirmed to me it is dead on arrival,” Ivie said. “The appropriate place to address those concerns in the governor’s office.”
Shortly after the meeting was continued to a later date, Ainge exited the building visibly frustrated.
“I think (Lee) is still in there having some sort of political rally,” Ainge said. “We need to mask up. We need to follow the guidance… The way that we’re mitigating (COVID) right now, until we have a vaccine, is to wear a damn mask!”
Lee and Ivie stayed inside, speaking with people for more than three hours.
“I knew people had taken time out of their day, taken time off work possibly, to be here,” Ivie said.
Prior to the meeting, Lee met with members of the public who gathered outside to protest the governor’s K-12 mask mandate.
Matthew Stone Crossette, a father tells FOX 13 he has already pulled his children out of school, said he attended the rally to hear what Lee would have to say.
“I have a problem being told that I have to do anything, especially to protect someone else,” Crossette said. “I am completely against (wearing a mask) – don’t get me wrong – but my church leaders have asked me to do it, not my government.”
Lee acknowledged he has also received plenty of emails from people who are pro-mask and may have felt uncomfortable going into a packed meeting.
“If we teach our kids in Utah County they’re exempt (from wearing mask), we’re just teaching them more privilege and that is a very fine line and a scary thing to do,” said mother Carrie Hall. “They go home to grandparents. They go home to single parents who need to work. Why can’t we just wear a mask?”
So far the Utah County Commissioners have not set a new date or new location for the next meeting.
Lee and Ivie suggested the next meeting could take place at the Utah Valley Convention Center to give people more room to spread out.