Carroll Report Maryland Muckraker

Muckraker: Guerin, Vigliotti confirm stance against return to mandates for employees: ‘Your choices are yours’

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New Carroll County Commissioners Mike Guerin and Joe Vigliotti both recently confirmed their position against a return to mandating masks and COVID vaccines for county government employees, a view that contrasts with the policies of the previous Commissioners who were comparatively hawkish on the measures that have since proven to be damaging and ineffective.

“Those are things we will not be going back to”

With his opening remarks during the September 14th Commissioners meeting, Vigliotti acknowledged that some in the county have been concerned about those mandates returning. He confirmed there is no desire for that in Carroll County Government. “Whether you choose to wear a mask or not, or whether you are vaccinated or not, will not affect your employment status here as far as I am concerned,” he said. “Your choices are yours and left to you and the wisdom of your doctors, and that is simply the case.”

Expanding on Vigliotti’s remarks during this past Thursday’s Commissioners meeting was Guerin, who said a majority of this new Board believes citizens should be able to “Exercise their own free will when it comes to masks, social distancing, and things like that.” He wanted county employees and citizens to be at ease “Those are things we will not be going back to,” he assured. “The decision will be yours going forward.”   

Commissioners Mike Guerin & Joe Vigliotti speaking at recent Board of County Commissioners meetings

Healthcare system was “near collapse”

In December of 2021, at the height of the panic surrounding the Omicron variant, Commissioners Dennis Frazier, Stephen Wantz, Ed Rothstein, and Richard Weaver enacted a policy requiring unvaccinated county employees to wear N-95 masks after hearing from local health officials who said hospitals were overwhelmed due to high rates of transmission in the community.

Dr. Robert Wack, Deputy Health Officer at the Carroll County Health Department, warned the Commissioners that the healthcare system was “near collapse.” He encouraged policies promoting masking, vaccinating, and social distancing because each of the three were proven to work. 

Garrett Hoover, the President & COO of Carroll Hospital, a LifeBridge Health Center, told the Commissioners the State of Maryland was setting new records for cases and hospitalizations. He said LifeBridge Health facilities were returning to masks, plexiglass separators, and social distancing.

Shortly after Wack and Hoover’s remarks, Rothstein officially motioned to require unvaccinated county employees to mask with N95s and to mandate that citizens coming into county buildings be masked as well. Frazier seconded, then Wantz and Weaver joined in voting affirmatively.

Only Commissioner Eric Bouchat dissented, considering the policy inequitable and unscientific. He encouraged county employees to file a class action lawsuit alleging discrimination by the county, and he called on county residents more broadly to rise up and resist the oppressive mandate.

Former Commissioners Eric Bouchat, Dennis Frazier, and Stephen Wantz at the District 5 Delegate candidate forum

Six months later, in June of 2022 after the Omicron hysteria subsided, Wantz, Frazier, and Bouchat were all running for District 5 Delegate as their Commissioner terms were coming to an end. During a candidate forum, moderator Bob Blubaugh asked them how well they thought Carroll County’s elected officials responded to the virus.

“I trusted the experts as an elected official,” Wantz replied. “We listened to the physicians and the doctors.”

Frazier responded similarly, saying “We followed what the State said because we believed they had more experts online.”

While Bouchat lamented what the culture of masking has done to children “We have damaged our children severely.”

Bouchat would go onto win one of three Delegate seats alongside incumbent April Rose and Chris Tomlinson, while Wantz and Frasier finished 5th and 7th respectively.

As recently as November of 2022, just ten months ago, Wack wrote an Op-Ed in the Carroll County Times where he recommends that those experiencing cold symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID, “Wear a mask around others, out of common courtesy and because masks work.”

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