Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says it was "kind of a foolish action" for more than 100 Utah County residents to pack a room for a hearing on the state's mask mandate for schoolchildren.The Provo meeting was adjourned in just over a minute Wednesday after county commissioner Tanner Ainge observed that the crowd was neither following social distancing guidelines nor wearing masks. "This is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing," Ainge said, to boos and jeers from the crowd. Herbert said Thursday that experts would agree that the crowd's behavior was foolish, the Daily Herald reports. "We get together, and who knows who's got the COVID-19 virus, and cheek to jowl, where you have an opportunity to spread it," he said.
The meeting had been called over a letter from county commissioner Bill Lee asking Herbert to waive the mask requirement for schools when they reopen, ABC reports. Ainge walked out of the meeting Wednesday after the motion to adjourn passed 2-1, but Lee and the third commissioner, Nathan Ivie, stayed to hear residents' thoughts on the letter, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Speakers called the mandate "tyranny." Some parents expressed worries about the emotional impact on children, while one grandmother declared that COVID-19 is a "hoax" and a "political stunt." The few that spoke in favor of masks, including a teacher, were shouted down by the crowd, the Tribune notes. Herbert called for "better dialogue" Thursday, but noted that the mask issue is for the state health department to deal with, not county commissioners. (Read more Utah stories.)