Mask up.

That was the message from the Pierce County Council at its June 30 meeting, even though it voted to postpone indefinitely a resolution urging residents to wear facial coverings while in public spaces to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On June 23, Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced a statewide mandatory face-covering order that went into effect on June 26.

“When we look at our COVID numbers, frankly, the last two weeks haven’t been going well,” Councilmember Marty Campbell, one of the moot resolution’s sponsors, observed.

As of July 2, Pierce County reported 56 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths. As of that date, there have been a total 2,642 cases and 90 deaths since the county’s first case was reported March 6, according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

“We’ve learned most recently that, really, wearing a mask is an incredibly effective, cost-effective, easy way — that everyone when they’re out in public, put a mask on,” Campbell implored.

Councilmember Connie Ladenburg, another co-sponsor of the resolution, echoed her colleague’s comments.

“There is really no harm in a wearing a mask,” she said, noting people with certain health conditions are exempt from wearing one. “There is harm if you don’t wear a mask. We’re all in this together.”

Reputable medical authorities indicate wearing face coverings lessens the chance of transmission of the coronavirus by asymptomatic carriers.

Councilmember Pam Roach applauded the public’s compliance in wearing masks to help slow or stop the spread of the virus.

Not everyone was on board with wearing masks, however. Councilmember Jim McCune expressed some skepticism, noting that the coronavirus death rate in the United States is way down and dropping.

“The media is not playing that up,” he said.

Toward the tail end of June, the number of daily deaths from coronavirus has been falling consistently since peaking in late April.

Citing his own informal research, McCune indicated he was worried that the warm, moist environment near the mouth makes it more likely a mask will harbor bacteria, increasing the chances of getting sick.

“As long as it's voluntary, great,” he said of wearing a mask, pointing out the absurdity of letting people out of jail and prison due to coronavirus but threatening people who don’t wear masks with legal sanctions.

According to the statewide mandate that went into effect June 26, refusal to wear a facial covering is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to $100 in fines. Inslee and law enforcement agencies across the state have said that punishment will remain a last resort, instead calling facial covering resolutions and mandates educational, emphasizing safety over strict enforcement.