By Jon King /

A resolution that would no longer require mandatory face coverings for people visiting Livingston County facilities is getting some push back.

The resolution, which will be up for a vote Tuesday by the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, was unanimously approved last week by the General Government Committee after it was introduced by Commissioner Wes Nakagiri. It followed the recent Michigan Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the state law which allowed Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to issue pandemic-related executive orders without legislative extension of a State of Emergency.

Nakagiri maintains that the various mitigation techniques the board has already approved, including social distancing requirements for employees, implementing telework, increased cleaning and sanitizing and the hiring of a new epidemiologist, made the mask requirement unnecessary. In addition to Nakagiri, the committee consists of Commissioners William Green, Jay Gross and Kate Lawrence.

Lawrence told WHMI that she voted to pass the resolution on to the full board for discussion and vote, but noted her comments “included that I had many questions and would be contacting our employees for their opinion. I also questioned the face to face our Health Department has along with LETS Transportation. Many of our other departments have shield type barriers between the customer and staff. Since then, we have received many forms of communications from our constituents.” Lawrence said she expected a “good discussion” at Tuesday’s meeting.

However, fellow Commissioner Gary Childs, in an email to the entire board, noted that Nakagiri has acknowledged his resolution would have no effect due to a subsequent emergency order by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services that mandates masks in public spaces. Commissioner Childs asked Nakagiri to, “Please explain the purpose of the resolution since it has no effect except, in my mind, it only stirs up more unrest in an already turbulent time” Childs is the lone Democrat on the board after switching parties last year.

In addition, former Circuit Court Judge Dan Burress is also opposed to the resolution, posting on social media an “Open Plea” to the board of commissioners that asked them to, “Please do not replicate the White House by turning Livingston County courts and government buildings into Covid-19 Petri dishes. Face masks and hand washing are front line defense tools that protect us all.” In a follow-up email to WHMI, Judge Burress noted that, “People do not come to county buildings because they want to. In the case of the courts they often come kicking and screaming. As it relates to the Commissioners meetings, they are now Virtual -- electric masks if you will. Both the using public and the county’s valuable employees deserve that you (the county board) follow the science as it relates to this important matter. I have two friends who live in Livingston County who contracted Covid-19 and they have residuals even though they are no longer contagious.” Burress continues to provide mediation and arbitration services for the county, currently using a Zoom platform.

In response to the statements by Commissioner Childs and Judge Burress, Commissioner Nakagiri said he and Commissioner Childs have a "difference of opinion" while his perspective "differs somewhat" from Judge Burress regarding the petri dish comment and that "While the Judge focuses on buildings, my focus is on the health of citizens." He then urged the Judge to read the reports presented by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). "The AAPS offers their “Mask Facts” at Quoting from their introduction, 'COVID-19 is as politically-charged as it is infectious. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO, the CDC and NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci discouraged wearing masks as not useful for non-health care workers. Now they recommend wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are hard to do (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The recommendation was published without a single scientific paper or other information provided to support that cloth masks actually provide any respiratory protection.' Hmm . . . Not a single scientific paper to support that cloth masks actually provide any respiratory protect. Shocking!" Nakagiri then presents several other findings by AAPS he termed as "shocking revelations" including that "Wearing masks (other than N95) will not be effective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission," that "masks were not properly fitted to the faces of 87.4% of participants" and that a "study was presented showing that an increase in COVID cases coincided with the implementation of an indoor mask mandate." He concluded by saying "The AAPS presents many other findings indicating that masks are likely not the panacea that the nightly news would lead us to believe."

It should be noted that the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons that Nakagiri referred to is considered to promote, "quackery level pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, use of poor sources, a lack of transparency with funding as well as numerous false claims and failed fact checks." The group's opinions over the years have included the belief that HIV does not cause AIDS, being gay reduces life expectancy, that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, and that there is a causal relationship between vaccines and autism, all of which have been disproven by peer-reviewed medical organizations. Furthermore, the group's statement of principles declares that it is “evil” and “immoral” for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid.

A copy of the resolution that will be up for consideration at Tuesday’s meeting is available below.