Cairo mayor asks county for mask mandate in public buildings


CAIRO — Mayor Howard Thrower appeared before the Grady County Board of Commissioners last week to encourage county officials to implement a mask policy for public buildings.

City officials already implemented a mask requirement of their own for all public buildings several months ago, a policy Thrower noted only affects a handful of places people normally enter.

The mayor told council members he thinks Grady County should consider implementing a similar policy of their own to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

"I would encourage you to consider doing something like that," he said at last week's commission meeting.

Thrower also said air return units in most city buildings have been outfitted with special filters that can kill any virus, including COVID-19. 

The filters, which cost the city less than $6,400 to install, also help combat mold and mildew.

Commission chair Keith Moye noted that the county has begun installing similar units of their own in public buildings. The filters are being installed in all county-owned buildings except for several of the outlying fire departments. 

Thrower noted that the case rate across Georgia is going up — currently around 8.5% of tests return with a positive COVID-19 status — but the overall number of tests is going down.

The mayor told the council he believes the relatively lower rates of COVID-19 in Grady County are providing the illusion of safety.

One potential explanation for the somewhat lower numbers reported in Grady County that Thrower cited was that many locals are using less reliable rapid-result antigen tests, which are recorded separately from the more common nasal swab polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

Another theory Thrower floated is that the local Health Department has recently been more focused on administering flu shots throughout county schools than on the virus.

City officials speak with the Georgia Department of Public Health every Tuesday to receive updates on local rates of COVID-19 — an affair Thrower said typically begins pleasantly.

Last week's call was different, the mayor said.

"The first things out of this man's mouth were 'we're in trouble,'" Thrower said.

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