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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Huntersville Mayor Questions Legality Of Mecklenburg County's Mask Mandate


Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla sent a letter Wednesday night to the Mecklenburg County Commission questioning the legality of the county's indoor mask mandate which takes effect Aug. 31.

The letter says the county has not supplied sufficient evidence showing why the indoor mask mandate is necessary to protect public health, as required by a state statute.

In an interview with WFAE, Aneralla said he believed the county should remain under state and federal rules, which only encourage but don't require face coverings in many settings. He said he's asking the county to better explain its reasoning behind the mandate and show that it has the authority to implement it.

"I definitely would like the rationale for why they've done this," he said. "I think every single citizen should want that — whether they're pro-mask, anti-mask — because if this is applied in this way, then basically they've taken the authority away from all these communities, including the city of Charlotte, to manage through the crisis."

Aneralla said he recognized that COVID-19 cases have been rising in recent weeks. The town of Huntersville has been averaging about 32 cases per day over the last month according to Aneralla. He said that number was "way too high," but stopped short of saying residents in his town needed a requirement to mask up.

"I think if they want to wear a mask, they should wear a mask, and I certainly encourage people to get vaccinated. My whole family has been vaccinated," he said, "But I truly believe at the end of the day, much of this comes down to personal responsibility and personal choice."

Aneralla said he reached out to Mecklenburg County Commissioners Elaine Powell and Pat Cotham prior to the county commission voting 6-2 to approve the new indoor mask mandate on Aug. 18. Cotham voted against the mandate, saying she felt uncomfortable implementing the rule across the county's six towns when not all of them appeared to support the mandate.

The city of Charlotte and other area towns, including Matthews and Davidson, along with unincorporated areas of the county are already requiring masks for indoor public settings.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris has previously said the countywide mandate is necessary to slow viral transmission and community spread of the coronavirus.

The countywide mask mandate takes effect Aug. 31, and will remain in effect until the percent of tests coming back positive in the county falls below 5% for 30 days. As of Aug. 18, the positivity rate in Mecklenburg County was at 13.2%.

Representatives for the Mecklenburg County Commission did not immediately return requests for comment.

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Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal