Based on the directives issued by Governor Roy Cooper on July 29, 2021, The Town of Highlands held a Special Board of Commissioners Meeting on August 2, 2021. The meeting included a question and answer session with the Chief Medical Officer of Mission Health, Dr. Bill Hathaway. Dr. Hathaway advised the Commission the Covid19 Delta Variant is a significant concern for the medical community and the population at large, and can only be addressed with higher vaccination rates and/or wearing a mask. Although vaccination rates are increasing, it is not enough to contain the spread of the virus. If the Delta Variant is allowed to continue to spread it is likely new variants will arise that could be even more serious.
Based on the current state of the Covid19 Delta Variant and CDC guidelines, The Town Board unanimously adopted a mask mandate for all “indoor” Town of Highlands facilities effective August 3, 2021. The Board is also encouraging Town employees to seriously consider getting vaccinated and information sessions are being planned to assist with these efforts. The mask mandate does not apply to private businesses in the Town of Highlands or any outdoor settings on Town property.
The following are points of information from Monday’s meeting:
- Private businesses have the ability to mandate vaccines as a condition of employment.
- The Covid19 vaccines are currently under Emergency Use Authorization but they are likely to receive full authorization in the near future based on safety data collected to date.
- Vaccinated individuals have a lower risk of spreading the vaccine but they can still catch the virus and spread the virus.
- Vaccinated individuals have a significantly lower risk of becoming extremely sick or being hospitalized.
- In order to achieve “herd immunity” with the Delta Variant, approximately 85% of the population will need to be vaccinated.
- There is a possibility for a local vaccine clinic if it is determined it will assist with more individuals getting vaccinated in the community.