Heath Director: Watertown Complying With Face Mask Order, Worries About Complacency

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Watertown has one of the strictest face covering order, where people must wear them outside at all times or face fines, but the Town has taken an educate-first approach to enforcement.

The state has a face covering requirement as one of the measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, and it requires people to wear something that covers their nose and mouth when inside a public space or outside when people cannot be 6 feet or more away from each other.

The face coverings ordinance passed by the Watertown Board of Health in April requires face coverings being worn at all times while outside in public spaces such as sidewalks and on the street The ordinance also allows a Health Department employee or Watertown Police officer to issue a fine of up to $300.

Watertown Director of Health Larry Ramdin said members of his department have spoken to people who were not wearing their masks, but no fines have been issued.

“There has been significant compliance, we have (had) several conversations with those who choose not to wear a face covering,” Ramdin said.

The Watertown Police Department has not issued any fines, either, according to Police Lt. James O’Connor.

“Our approach is to educate people about the issue,” O’Connor said.

Ramdin said he believes it is important that people do not stop efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, even as the rate of spread has dropped significantly from the surge in April and May.

“While the cases have been positively impacted by the actions of the residents by adhering to social distancing, wearing face coverings and observing good hand hygiene, I still worry about complacency as we start to get back to some level of normality and then we see another surge in cases as we are seeing in other regions, but I do believe Watertown (is doing) what is best to protect ourselves,” Ramdin said.

As of July 7, Watertown has 426 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (five more than June 26), 23 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, and there are seven active cases. Statewide, there have been 104,659 cases and 7,983 deaths.

The ages of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Watertown are:

19 and under: 20

20-29: 55

30-39: 89

40-49: 54

50-59: 64

60-69: 61

70 and over: 79

Unknown age: 1

Total: 423

13 thoughts on “Heath Director: Watertown Complying With Face Mask Order, Worries About Complacency

  1. I’ll say about 70% of people walking/running/cycling around watertown and waltham are wearing masks. Since this is not a huge science denying community, im relatively shocked that the number is that low. I think everyone feels exempt if they are around the block walking their dogs.

    • I think 70% is high. More like half, and if you add in bicyclists and joggers, it’s less than half. A lot of people have masks around their necks, and some have them over their mouth but not their nose.

    • The science points to extremely low transmission risk when outdoors, particularly in the sunlight. So the people walking around with no mask on a sidewalk that isn’t crowded are actually the ones following the science. The Watertown order should be revised to conform to the state mandate. Scientific research has evolved since the local order was implemented, and thus the local order should also be updated.

      It makes sense to wear a mask indoors, or when having prolonged, close contact outdoors with people. Particularly if you are talking to them. But not when you are minding your own business walking around outside.

      • Well put. And risk of transmission is especially low when walking the dog around the block on empty streets. In my experience, the vast majority of people are taking Covid-19 seriously and wearing masks when it matters to reduce transmission.

  2. If no one is near me when walking outside I will not be wearing a mask, period. Please stop creating rules that micro manage people. We , too, do have good brain power just like you do, Larry.

  3. Where does the Board of Health get the authority to issue a mandatory mask order?

    Is its authority UNLIMITED?

    If not, tell us what those LIMITS are. Go ahead.

    Can the Board order all the grocery shops and restaurants in Watertown to not sell high-fat and high-sodium foods?

    Can it order everyone over 55 to stay indoors to avoid Covid-19?

    Can it order all Watertown schools to close come September?

    Can it order all baseballs used in Watertown to be softballs?

    Can it order everyone to wash their masks once a day and carry hand sanitizer?

    Does every automobile driver who drives through Watertown in a convertible have to wear a mask?

    Can 6 month old babies be required to wear masks if the Board so orders?

    Is the fine for disobeying a Board “ordinance” unlimited? $10,000 per offense?

    You will notice that liberals and so-called civil rights “libertarians” and organizations seem to have no qualms whatsoever in allowing government to have unfettered power.

    That is very, very revealing as to what they really stand for:

    Control and authoritarianism. The same people who are tearing down statues.

    • Great response lol, it is nice to know there are still some people around here that are aware of “liberal illogic” and their willingness to let other people, some of whom aren’t even elected officials, tell them how they (and everyone else) should live their daily lives, while also telling us what is safe, what is racist, what is ok, and what’s not ok to say (or even think)
      It’s gotten way out of control and come November, I believe the presidential election will prove exactly how Americans feel about this new normal… Trump 2020!
      And then.. Trump Jr 2024-2032!! Lol

  4. On May 7 Town Manager Driscoll wrote that the Board of Health would meet to consider amending the Watertown mask order so as to be consistent with the Governor’s order. What happened to that?

  5. Couldn’t you just wear a mask to protect your elderly neighbors, friends with compromised immunity? To be a good, caring human being? I don’t understand the resistance. We are all in the same boat. I don’t want to die from this virus. If a mask can help people be safe, I’m all for it. I pray that you won’t be too selfish to ignore the risks.

    • I am an elderly neighbor who walks early in the a.m. I give plenty of space to anyone else I see and will use my mask/bandana when social distancing isn’t possible. Please show me the science which says that the virus is easily spread if I am nowhere near another person outside? I absolutely always have a mask on indoors when not in my house. In addition to being concerned for others, I have a 94-year old mother and absolutely can’t get COVID as she relies on me to pick up/deliver groceries and take her to her doctor appointments. I believe in science, and if I have to be closer to others than I want to be, of course what to protect them. The tone of your reply is that if I won’t wear a mask the entire time I’m outside that makes me an uncaring, human being. I hope I’m not.

  6. Our face covering requirement is extreme and absurd. I agree with some others, I won’t wear one when it is clearly not needed either. I’ll use my own good common sense and good judgement.

    But that being said, I have seen many walkers, bikers, runners in very close proximity to others not wearing a face covering and also have also see construction/road crews in town not wearing them either. I am all for face coverings outside but not when it is clear that you can maintain well over 6 feet from others.

    Common sense Watertown Health Department.

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