Acting on a recommendation by the board of health, the Town of Falmouth has reinstated a mask mandate for all town buildings and is encouraging private business owners to do the same.

Health Agent Scott McGann presented updated COVID-19 numbers to the select board on Monday night, January 10, before making the mandate recommendation.

“To say the case count has gone off the hook in the last four weeks is an understatement,” he said.

The current case count is 3,362, not including any positive tests taken at home. He reported that there are roughly 400 new cases per week based on PCR testing only.

Before the highly contagious Omicron variant began to spread in town, Falmouth’s infection rate was relatively low at between 2 and 3 percent, and in May the indoor mask mandate was lifted.

Now the town has a 12 percent positivity rate, he said, which is slightly lower than the state’s 15 percent average rate.

“All of this data indicates there is a boatload of COVID around,” he said. “Our case count is three or four times higher than this time last year.”

Mr. McGann said a mask mandate for all buildings in Falmouth would be difficult to enforce and passed on the board of health’s recommendation that the select board be a role model for private entities.

“I do get questions on why not a full mask mandate,” he said. “That is the board of health decision, and they felt it could cause enforcement issues. We can’t run down to chase a guy down at a grocery store who was reported to not be wearing a mask. Those calls will come pouring in.”

However, more people are wearing masks now without a mandate, Mr. McGann said, noting, “People are watching and following what is going on, and I see a lot more mask-wearing in public now. That seems to go up and down as the case counts go up and down.”

The board of health has been receiving complaints about lack of masks in buildings. Many of the complaints were directed at the Falmouth Senior Center and recreation center.

Select board member Samuel H. Patterson said he was in town hall on Monday and noticed several people walking around unmasked.

“Given the statistics Scott just showed us, we ought to be able to enforce this for the sake of the people,” he said. “I had a mask on, so I did not feel threatened, but it is a public health issue and we need to encourage this as much as possible.”

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