Mayor Rod Tappe

Union Mayor Rod Tappe

Coming off his own battle with COVID-19, Union Mayor Rod Tappe is pleased to see Franklin County approve a mask mandate.

“I’m not an expert, but when my doctor tells me to wear a mask, I think it’s the only way to slow it down,” he said.

The mask mandate, which took effect Friday, Nov. 20, and continues to Sunday, Dec. 20, includes fines of up to $15 for individuals and $100 per violation for businesses.

“I don’t think we’re going to be out to get businesses in trouble, it’s just about getting everybody involved,” Tappe said. “So if you’re going to err on one side, err on the side of safety.”

Tappe said he usually wears a mask in public, but got COVID-19 after he let his guard down around friends. He was in quarantine from Nov. 3 until returning to his job at Lowe’s Home Improvement Thursday, Nov. 19. “If I had a chance to go back and wear a mask, I would have worn a mask too,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to wish it upon anybody,” he said. “Some people are dying from it.”

Tappe is feeling “pretty good” now, he said.

“My lung capacity is not where it was, but I’m getting better every day,” he said. “I live today for today and make the best of it.”

While he was never hospitalized while battling COVID-19, Tappe had a rough five-day period with a fever and feeling miserable, he said.

“The best thing to do is to listen to what the doctor tells you to do,” he said.

Tappe previously proposed a mask mandate for within the Union city limits. At a special July 20 board of aldermen meeting, the board allowed the measure to die because no one motioned to vote on it. Hundreds of protesters, most of them opposed to the mandate, showed up at the meeting.

The mayor’s wife, Debra Tappe, had her own fight against COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic. She had to quarantine for 14 days at the assisted-living facility where she is a nurse.

Debra Tappe’s symptoms were even worse, said Rod Tappe, who is diabetic.

“I think the hardest part is just the unknown of where you’re headed,” he said.

Tappe knows others who had COVID-19 but weren’t impacted as much, adding it is important to be considerate of all.

“If you think about it, God created us differently,” he said. “There are some people it didn’t impact that much and some people it’s killed.”

The county’s mask mandate is similar to the one Union proposed, though the county has the 30-day limit initially, Tappe said.

“I think 30 days is a good number to start with, and they can re-evaluate it as they go,” he said. “I think it’s a numbers game. The hospitals are bursting at the seams.”

Tappe said he does not want to debate people about whether mask mandates are a violation of their rights.

“The problem is you have people who are positive who are asymptomatic,” he said. “They are going to spread it.

“I wear a mask to help other people and me, also,” he said. “It’s not just me protecting against you, it’s you protecting against me, as well.”