TURES COLUMN: Mask mandates may have more support in Troup County

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, August 18, 2021

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One of the biggest debates in Troup County has been over whether to require unvaccinated kids to wear a mask in schools, after the Troup County School Board voted in August to mandate mask wearing for all students, with the option to reverse course if the coronavirus numbers get better.

An online poll on the LDN website and on its Facebook page showed that 62.9 percent of respondents felt that no, masks should not be mandated, and should be optional.  The remaining 37.1 percent felt “Yes, masks should be mandated for all students and teachers.”

Online polls have their plusses and minuses. It’s hard to get a major polling firm to focus on Troup County on just one question, like this. But on the other hand, such polls run the risk of incorporating the views of those who knew about the poll and could access it. I know plenty of folks who didn’t know about the poll, and were dismayed that they couldn’t participate.

Knowing that people can be pretty mistrustful of sources, I used a Fox News source for information on mask mandates, which cited a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).  According to Fox, “The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor said 63% of parents of school-age children polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) said schools should mandate masks for unvaccinated students and staff in the building.”

Of course, Troup County is more conservative than the rest of the country. So I looked at how Republicans and Democrats approached the issue. According to that same poll, cited by Fox, “88% of Democratic and 66% of independent parents supported masks in schools for unvaccinated children and staff, and 69% of Republican parents opposed.”

I also weighted the support and opposition scores to masks by how citizens of Troup County voted in the last election, where 60.4 percent of voters in the county picked Trump, and 38.5 percent voted for Biden, and 1 percent voted Libertarian.

With those numbers, we have 53.3 percent of parents of Troup County supporting masks in schools, and 46.7 percent opposing masks in schools.

Of course, there are several factors to consider. Fox, which ran the story the other day, cited the KFF poll, which was taken between July 15 and August 2, before most Americans knew about the deadly Delta Variant, and before they knew how many beds were available, or not available, in Southeastern states. And it’s also before they knew about how many other counties in West and Central Georgia closed down due to COVID-19 cases. 

Evidence from a Morning Consult/POLITICO poll on vaccination mandates show “those requirements are supported by roughly 35 percent of Republicans, who form the largest group of unvaccinated Americans. When it comes to mask mandates, Republican support inches up a few percentage points.” So the number of GOP supporters of mask mandates are likely higher than those I reported in the poll, showing even more people in Troup County support them.

Neither the online poll, nor my mathematical estimated poll based on national support for or against masks are picture-perfect, of course. Continue to let your elected officials know where you stand. Talk to your neighbors. Listen to your health care professionals, and even school board members, for their rationale. They do a good job of studying what others are doing, what works and what doesn’t work.