TEASER Health Department

The Moore County Health Department building in Carthage.

William Mang, chairman of the Moore County Board of Health, announced he was stepping down from the position on Monday during the board’s first in-person meeting since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mang, who will continue to serve his appointed term on the board as a pharmacist representative, did not elaborate on his decision. Vice chairman Leo Santowasso said he plans to carry out the remainder of Mang’s term as chairman, which is set to expire in January.

The change means a new vice chairman must be elected by the board. After none of the other members nominated a replacement or volunteered to take over for Santowasso, it was decided to table the matter until the group’s next meeting on Oct. 5.

“I would welcome anybody to step up,” Santowasso said. “With the health problem that we’re facing and will be facing for some time in the future, I would hope that someone would either make a nomination or step up to the table and volunteer at the next meeting.”

Monday’s meeting was called in August after county commissioners questioned why the board, which oversees the Moore County Health Department, had met only twice since the area’s first case of COVID-19 was reported in March. The board’s leadership responded with a pledge to hold monthly meetings for the remainder of the year.

Three newly appointed members were sworn in at the start of Monday’s meeting. They include Tony Price, CEO of Moore Free and Charitable Care Clinic; Benjamin Wacker, an optometrist with Family Eye Care of the Carolinas; and Paul Kuzma, an anesthesiologist with FirstHealth of the Carolinas.

With the new members in place, the board voted to adopt a resolution in support of the three Ws, a mnemonic device promoted by the state to remind people to wash their hands, wear face coverings and wait 6 feet apart in public settings.

Following months of near-ubiquitous messaging from the state, it would perhaps be difficult to find a North Carolinian unfamiliar with three Ws — or three Ms for Spanish-speaking individuals. Still, the resolution noted that the three Ws are the “most effective control measures available to our residents when out of their homes.”

Robert Wittmann, director of the health department, said on Tuesday that a similar resolution will be presented to county commissioners for potential approval next month.

"If put into practice, these can be the most effective tools that we have in trying to curb the spread of the virus, and the data has shown that since the inception of adhering to these prevention measures,” Matt Garner, public information officer for the health department, said during Tuesday's meeting of the Moore County Board of Commissioners.

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