It didn’t start out that way, but about 15 minutes into the March 19 County Board meeting, all five board members were going commando – mask-wise, that is.
The 8:30 a.m. start time featured board members Takis Karantonis and Christian Dorsey in their seats with masks, with colleagues Katie Cristol, Matt de Ferranti and Libby Garvey mask-free. By the end of the public-comment period that starts the proceedings, the two masked-up board members had removed their face coverings.
Cristol, who chairs the body for 2022, noted that recent guidance from the federal and state levels had led County Manager Mark Schwartz to amend masking recommendations for county-government buildings.
Everyone should make a masking decision “based on personal choice,” Cristol said.
In mid-2021, after County Board members resumed in-person meetings, most went mask-free for a number of months before warnings from public-health officials led them to slap the noggin’-nuzzlers back on. Given that Dr. Anthony Fauci last week began leading the drumbeat that another COVID variant might require the public to return to masks, it’s possible the March 19 free-range meeting might be another short-lived experiment.
The board meeting came nine days after the Arlington School Board held its first meeting since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control radically altered mask-wearing recommendations and left Northern Virginia leaders with little choice to amend their own policies to align with views of mask-freedom advocates.
At the March 10 School Board meeting, four of five board members and Superintendent Francisco Durán went maskless.