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County commissioners discuss vaccine queries, public dishonesty


Some people told Washoe County commissioners during the public comment period of Tuesday’s meeting that they’ve been questioned about their COVID-19 vaccination status when being seen maskless at area businesses.

“That bothers me,” Commissioner Vaughn Hartung said. “I believe a note should be put on the door that asks people if they haven’t been vaccinated to wear a mask; and if they have been vaccinated, it’s fine. I think that’s adequate.”

Using advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nevada lifted its mask mandate less than a week ago for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, although there’s no way to tell who has or hasn’t been vaccinated.

CDC issued guidance late last week saying fully-vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

CDC continues to recommend masks be worn in healthcare settings, on airplanes, on public transit, in correctional facilities and in homeless shelters regardless of vaccination status.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of Moderna, which takes a total of 6 weeks from first shot to full vaccination, or Pfizer, which is 5 weeks. Those who get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot are fully vaccinated after 2 weeks.

Cindy Sassenrath told commissioners she’s been questioned while maskless about her vaccine status.

“I was asked if I was vaccinated,” Sassenrath said. “They didn’t ask me what I was vaccinated for. So, yes, I have been vaccinated.”

Washoe County Commissioner Kitty Jung.

Commissioner Kitty Jung said nobody has lived through a pandemic of this magnitude before, so there will be missteps in some situations. She agreed with Hartung about not questioning others about whether they’ve been vaccinated, but suggested people be honest and act accordingly—which some aren’t doing.

“So if you’re unvaccinated, and I know many of you were proudly unvaccinated last week…but now you’re suddenly vaccinated, which doesn’t fit even the 6-week program, so it’s not true,” said Jung, referring to the small crowd of maskless people who frequent county meetings and spread misinformation during public comment about the COVID-19 vaccine. “To me, this is just a real act of your personal integrity to hear and how much you believe you owe it as a patriot to America and your fellow citizens to comply with civility and decorum.”

Jung noted Washoe County has never given out tickets or fines to individuals violating COVID guidelines and neither local law enforcement or the state backed such measures.

Jung also said some people have said on the public record that they won’t get near her because she’s been vaccinated for COVID-19 and might be emitting something.

“Basic science seems to be really lacking and it makes me nervous,” said Jung, adding she’s not trying to be sarcastic, but some people seemed to have forgotten what they learned in school and should consider auditing a few classes. “This is a hard conversation to have with the community if we can’t even agree that 2 and 2 equals 4.”

Hartung said the Washoe County Health District needs to change its name to the Northwest Nevada Health District, or something similar, because it’s too confusing for the public. Contrary to popular belief, the Board of County Commissioners doesn’t set health-related rules, he said, although it follows CDC guidelines.

Editor’s Note: State of Nevada and Nevada Health Response guidance on updated mask requirements indicates, “The State of Nevada neither requires nor prohibits private entities from confirming vaccination status of individuals,” and, “Private entities and organizations may have mask policies that are more restrictive than the CDC guidance.”

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.




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