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Complaint reveals mask wearing is not a clear-cut issue

By Susan Mustapich | May 26, 2020

CAMDEN — A complaint about employees of the Hammond Lumber store in Camden not wearing masks was responded to by local police, and the company safety officer, who said the company is following state orders for COVID-19 prevention.

The complaint called in to the Knox Country Regional Communications Center May 12 was responded to by local law enforcement. The complaint was relayed to the Camden Police Department the same day, Police Chief Randy Gagne said May 19, and Officer Brook Hartshorn responded by calling the store.

Gagne said the call is logged as an information complaint, and the Police Department's response to this complaint was to educate about the issue.

Camden resident Nancy Caudle-Johnson said she called in the complaint after she entered the store and saw employees not wearing masks. She is concerned about airborne transmission of COVID-19 and that a vulnerable person might go in to the store, she said. She also said state rules have left open a loophole regarding mask wearing.

Hammond Lumber Company Safety Director Bruce Pelletier explained May 19 that the company is declared an essential business by the state, and has remained open.

The company has issued cloth face masks to all employees, and will also issue gator-type masks to employees, he said.

Pelletier pointed out that the governor's orders do not say you have to wear a mask. Employees can social distance and choose to only wear a mask when social distancing is not possible, he said. If they did need to be within 6 feet of a customer, then they should be wearing a mask, he said.

He described safety measures in place at Hammond Lumber, including barriers up at the counters, 6-feet markings on the floor to maintain social distance, continuous cleaning especially of high touch surfaces and hand sanitizer for employees who are constantly cleaning their hands.

Limits to numbers of people in the store and the request that customers wear face masks are posted on the front door, he said.

"We work very hard on safety at Hammond. It's one of our top priorities," he said. "We've been complying with the CDC orders, and working very hard with our employees."

He pointed out that Hammond's concern for safety is the entire purpose for his job existing.

The Maine Department of Economic Development has issued COVID-19 checklists for various types of businesses undergoing stages of reopening. For businesses without specific guidelines, like Hammond Lumber, the state issued the COVID-19 Prevention Checklist, General Guidelines, which were updated May 8.

Under the heading Physical Distancing and Good Hygiene to Prevent the Spread of Disease, the general guidelines state: maintain 6-feet physical distancing for staff, customers and vendor and require employees to wear cloth face coverings. Cloth face coverings are intended to prevent transmission. The degree to which cloth face coverings, masks and face shields are recommended is based on proximity and duration of contact.

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Comments (16)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 30, 2020 14:17


Dated back in March 2020?  We know more about how this spreads now.  Check to see what it says about wearing masks after March 2020.  You may find that it has changed.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 28, 2020 17:42

Wear a mask or don't!  I know that I will to protect myself from the out of staters that are here and still coming that will not self quarantine for two weeks.  I think that people that don't are taking big chances.  Especially with all the tourists crossing our boarders and staying for a week, month, two months, whatever.  Most of them will not self quarantine nor wear a mask while out in public.  DANGEROUS!!!   THOUGHTLESS!

Posted by: Katherine Holland | May 28, 2020 07:00

In re: to the US Surgeon General:

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams made comments in February and March 2020 recommending people not wear masks to help protect against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease, and those comments began to recirculate online in April and May. As of April, though, Adams had changed his views in accordance with evolving recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and, to a lesser extent, from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Posted by: Christopher Fowles | May 28, 2020 05:37

  • US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Monday, March 2 that wearing face masks could actually increase a person's risk of contracting COVID-19, echoing remarks he made on Saturday that called for people to "stop buying masks."

Posted by: Katherine Holland | May 27, 2020 11:45

Mr. Rosenberg: thank you for mentioning that NY Times article on the efficacy of wearing masks. A quote from the first few paragraphs:

"Hong Kong has so far reported a grand total of four coronavirus-related deaths, while New York City has reported over 20,000.

Here’s another striking comparison: Close to 99 percent of Hong Kong residents have been wearing masks, to prevent the wearer from spreading the virus, since early February. According to a mid-April Gallup poll, only a third of Americans say they always wear a mask or cloth face covering outside the home. Another third of us sometimes wear a mask in public, and a third never do."

The full article is here:



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | May 27, 2020 11:42

We all know where the problem with wearing masks comes from: The divider in chief who spreads distrust, dishonor, fear and hatred so people don't have any idea what to believe.   I respect them. I do not respect him partially because he respects no one. I will wear  my mask when out and about and 99% of the time stay home.

Posted by: claire perry | May 27, 2020 10:46

Get off the ego trips.

If the employees don't come within 6 feet of the customers...I'm okay with them not wearing a mask.  It would be better if they DID...especially if they are an undetected carrier...but what the hell.

Customers...wear your mask.  And stop the bickering.  I learned something reading this article.  I respect people enough to put on a mask when I'm out in public (to any populated degree)...because I care about my fellow citizens. I care about YOU.  What you your choice.  But, get some emotional maturity on board and stop acting like you are a victim. You aren't.

And one more thing....don't EVER compare a Covid virus like this to the flu !  It is born of wild animals, it is a *protein*...not a bacteria. IT IS A COMPLETE UNKNOWN.  It can mutate.  And it is highly infectious.  So, don't think you are smart by making light of it. You wont be so cavalier about it, when somebody you love with all your heart comes down with it.

Posted by: Barry Douglas Morse | May 27, 2020 10:30

Ms. Johnson is right: the state requirements are vague.

But there is also no explicit state requirement to wash hands - only to make sure the opportunity is provided to wash hands and disinfect.


I think the state guidelines assume that the state can point out the direction and employers and employees will then exercise a high level of caution on their own volition as a simple matter of personal  and professional pride in, and concern for, community.


Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | May 27, 2020 08:10

Sorry "whistleblower" the majority of comments to your complaint are not on your side and here's another one.  If the waters too cold stay out.  Living in the world is a constant risk.  At some point we're all going to need to get back in the game in a gentle and respectful way.  I think most if not all companies are trying to do that..  You can always order online and support the mega corporations, or try to support our local business, but calling the police is not the way to do it.

Posted by: Robert M Rosenberg | May 27, 2020 08:10

BTW. Excellent article in today’ s New York Times re mask wearing. Recommend taking the time to read it. Not “fake news.”

Posted by: Robert M Rosenberg | May 27, 2020 07:47

Masks have been proven to help prevent spread of virus. Not wearing a mask shows complete disregard for others. It’s a simple thing to do so why not wear one.

Posted by: Jeannie L. Wood | May 27, 2020 06:11

Seems to me that these people have nothing better to do in their lives but try to make other people as miserable as they are. If you don't feel safe stay @ home period. Need supplies call for a del. its free.... Husband of Jeannie's

Posted by: Lawrence Edward Galkowski | May 27, 2020 05:45

The mask is proven to be  inefficient. At risk people should stay at home. This virus is response is to the point of being ridiculous. Ruining the economy to protect a few at risk people, Besides the survival rate is over 98%. If you are fearful cower at home and allow others to get on with their lives.


Posted by: ananur forma | May 26, 2020 18:09

and I say, we need to be careful because we still don't know enough.

Posted by: Melissa Byer | May 26, 2020 17:20

I say if she doesn't like it she can not go there! The Police dept. have better things to do with their time.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | May 26, 2020 15:52

I say that this is gone too far!!!!!


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