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Lac La Biche County mayor puts health where his mouth is

Mayor vows to do more to educate about COVID cautions
mayor and dave walking
Lac La Biche Mayor Omer Moghrabi calls to area MP David Yurdiga as the two leave a recent gathering in Lac La Biche's McArthur Park. Despite the crowd, neither politician was wearing a facemask. The mayor says he now plans to wear one more often.

LAC LA BICHE - He'll be seen wearing a protective mouth mask more often. He might even be wearing a mask in a new 'official' mayor's profile picture.

"I was wearing it today, and I will be doing it more when I'm in public," said Lac La Biche County Mayor Omer Moghrabi.

The mayor was asked by the POST if he had seen an uptick of area residents wearing protective masks since the provincial government provided 20 million non-medical masks to fast-food restaurants, like Lac La Biche's A&W, to distribute to residents. While the masks distributed locally were gone within days, the mayor said he hasn't seen many of them in use. A second distribution of the masks was announced to begin on July 24. The mayor hopes to see more people using the masks.

But he also sees why there might be some reluctance.

In a community that has yet to record its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 respiratory virus, Moghrabi said it can be easy to sometimes let your guard down. The mayor has been at several events locally where social distancing measures were somewhat relaxed — including the late June gathering at McArthur Park where hundreds of parents and families organized an outdoor group photo for 100 graduating high school students. Like most in that crowd, Moghrabi was not wearing a protective facemask — but he pledges to be more conscious of the protocols from now on. 

By wearing his own mask when he is out in public, the mayor hopes to show people the significance of taking protective measures against a virus that has killed more than 543,000 people around the globe.

"By wearing my mask, I want to be setting an example that it protects the person wearing it and those around them," said the mayor, adding that his renewed adherence to the pandemic protocols will hopefully spark a few more people from their comfort zones.

"I want to encourage people out there to realize that now is not the time to think we are done with this ... we need to keep reminding people that this sucker is still out there."


How to greet the mayor

Lac La Biche County Mayor Omer Moghrabi shares a light-hearted commentary on greeting without handshakes ...

"Forget about that thing with wagging your leg up and down and around — for me, at my age, I'd lose my balance and fall over.  And tapping your elbows?  Don't we sneeze into our elbows now?  So don't do that."

So how do you greet the mayor without elbows, legs, knees or hands coming into contact?

With your heart.

"I like it where you tap your hand against your own heart on your chest and wave," said the mayor, adding that he'd like to see more of that greeting — COVID or not — as it can relay genuine affection. "I'm trying to educate more people to do it that way."