OAKDALE, Calif. — At a Tuesday public meeting, three Oakdale City Council members openly defying Stanislaus County's mask mandate has sparked controversy.
According to the mask mandate, people have a face-covering inside public buildings regardless of vaccination status. The Modesto Bee was the first publication to report the city council members refusing to follow the COVID-19 health orders.
Ericka Hiara, Curtis Haney and Fred Smith could be seen not wearing a face mask during the city council meeting.
Oakdale is known for being the "Cowboy Capital of the World." It's situated in a county that already experienced more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to Stanislaus County.
Cristopher Smith, the Oakdale mayor pro tem, told ABC10 he offered the three council members a mask when he noticed they were not wearing a face covering. They declined, he said.
"To be honest with you, it's disappointing. It's disappointing that as leaders of the city, we're supposed to set an example for everybody," Smith said.
The mask mandate comes as the county's hospitals are seeing large spikes in COVID cases.
"We're not supposed to be some country that that happens," Smith said. "We're not supposed to be the county that that happens and we're self-inflicting this damage."
Smith spoke to ABC10 by phone because he said he is under self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.
ABC10 reached out to the three city council members for comment about their refusal to wear a mask during the public meeting but have not heard back as of publication.
Fred's Firearms, a business that is own by Smith, posted on Facebook, saying, "Due to unavoidable circumstances, we will be closed until September 21st." It is not clear what those unavoidable circumstances are.