County Councilman Kai Hagen (D) is no stranger to debating people on Facebook.

So earlier this month, when he posted a few pictures and wrote a lengthy post on his personal Facebook page about a male customer at the Food Lion grocery store in Thurmont not wearing a face covering or mask during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise the post generated a lot of discussion.

Some members of the public have accused Hagen of harassing the customer who did not wear a face covering. That customer told Hagen and a store manager he had a medical condition, and thus could not wear one. Others accused him of harassing store employees.

Hagen said in an interview last week he didn’t harass either the customer or store manager or any employees, but did agree on the following timeline:

On July 11 at the Thurmont Food Lion, he saw a man accompanying a woman who was shopping inside. The man was not wearing a face covering, so Hagen approached him from a distance and told him he should be wearing one.

That man told Hagen he couldn’t because he had a medical condition, so Hagen notified a store employee, who got a manager to give the customer a mask. The man did not wear the mask because of a medical condition, the manager told Hagen.

Hagen said if the man did have a medical condition, then Food Lion could have offered other ways to serve him, adding the woman he was with was doing all the shopping. He added those alternatives could have been offering curbside pickup, delivery or offering a face shield instead of a face covering.

Hagen was also concerned about the public health danger because the man was not wearing a mask. He told the manager he would not be patronizing his store if he and other employees didn’t enforce the order.

Hagen said he wouldn’t patronize the Food Lion if it didn’t enforce face covering rules, because he wanted to reward stores that would.

Hagen added he respected that some people, including the man he spoke with, may have a legitimate medical condition, but added they should be wearing face shields, or ordering curbside or delivery in order to keep others safe during the pandemic. County Executive Jan Gardner (D) commented on Hagen’s post he should report the incident to the county health department.

Hogan has issued statements this month stating recent increases in coronavirus cases and other key metrics are because businesses are not enforcing his executive orders.

John, a store manager who spoke with Hagen during the July 11 incident and did not give his last name, deferred comment to Food Lion’s spokespeople.

Emma Inman, director of external communications for Food Lion, said in a statement Food Lion employees in Maryland wear face coverings stores and encourage customers to, but don’t inquire about medical conditions.

Hogan’s executive order from mid-April requiring face coverings does not specifically note medical exemptions, but does state that businesses should “in good faith and to the extent possible” enforce the order. Mike Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan, noted Maryland Department of Health guidance which states: “People with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask are provided reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Ken Buckler, a Boonsboro resident, was one of the people who emailed with concerns about how Hagen handled the situation.

Buckler noted he has an “invisible” medical condition called photophobia, which requires him to wear rose-colored glasses and a hat in order to prevent fluorescent lights from giving him migraines indoors.

He believes those who are able should wear a mask. But, some people with medical conditions can’t, he added. And alternative services, like curbside pickup at grocery stores, aren’t always adequate if items are not in stock, Buckler said.

“So while this may be an attempt to serve those who can’t wear a mask, it is still not equivalent to being able to actually go into the grocery store, see what’s in stock, and choose what you would like to purchase,” Buckler said.

Some have questioned why Hagen deleted the post. Hagen said last week he did not delete it, but increased privacy settings when the post got out-of-hand and hateful comments were made.

“When you get 3,600 comments from half the states in the country, and well into the night, you’re getting threatening phone calls at home, making it inaccessible at times to make things calm down is the right thing to do,” Hagen said.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(82) comments

Reader

Mr. Hagen should never have approached the individual, it is NOT his place to bully people about wearing masks. His better choices were to speak to management OR simply leave the store if he didn't feel "safe" there. He's a bully and this sort of behavior is not acceptable. He owes that gentleman an apology.

NewMarketParent

Trying to get people to not be selfish and think of their own health and those around them is not bullying. Just like asking you to not pee in the middle of the store is not bullying. It is asking you to be considerate of others.

The fact that you could so easily try to flip that framing into bullying shows that you must not believe that masks are helpful.

MD1756

The obvious solution in this specific case is that the woman mentioned in the article, should have done the shopping while the guy waited at home or in the car. I doubt there are many items in the grocery store that require two people to lift and carry. Those who do not wear masks in public at this time (or do not make alternative plans) are needlessly putting others at risk.

hayduke2

MD-[thumbup][thumbup]

senorris

Hard to figure how "fear of light" would keep you from properly covering your nose and mouth.

ranedae

Exactly! I think those rose colored glasses have affected his ability to think logically.

C.D.Reid

Well, since it appears my original comment was deleted, I'll just sum it up in a nutshell: I would love him to try something like this with me in a public place. I really would.

KellyAlzan

I must be missing something, I’m not understanding what point you’re wanting to express.

hayduke2

That CD is a macho man....

KellyAlzan

All buff and burley in sure!

C.D.Reid

No, I'm not saying I'm a "macho man," hay, I'm just saying I'm not a wimp like you who would let a wimp like Hagen chastise me in public, that's all. Is that really so hard for you to comprehend? Is it?

KellyAlzan

Learn to read. I didn’t say you were saying. It was me that was saying.

Geeze, some people have been in the heat too long.....

hayduke2

It’s okay CD- I am quite secure in my manhood and don’t need to post how tough I am or call others a wimp. Me thinks thou dost protest to much[lol]

KellyAlzan

I love the sociology here at FNP! LOVE IT!

Here we have CD replying out of context to a reply about him! High and mighty!

And a minute later he's boasting about his reply,

Not even realizing he failed to read correctly!

I love my FNP community!

C.D.Reid

See the reply to hayduke that I just posted, Pb.

awteam2000

Got it. You would be very upset 😡. You would probably give them a piece of your mind. Maybe shout some bad words. Get up and leave, running out on paying your bill.

C.D.Reid

"Running out on paying my bill," aw? Are you implying I shoplift? That, therefore, I'm a thief?

threecents

CD, Don't you wear a mask when you go food shopping?

NewMarketParent

I think it is very telling that your automatic response to being ask to think about others would be the to hint at violence.

That is pretty much an admission that you lost the mental war.

Comment deleted.
awteam2000

Good time to donate to a food bank and relieve some of your frustration. Help others always makes one feel better.

threecents

Bottom line is that masks work. https://www.wsj.com/articles/face-masks-really-do-matter-the-scientific-evidence-is-growing-11595083298

KellyAlzan

Different topic. But thanks for the info.

threecents

My pleasure.

neilyoungfan25

The FNP fails to mention that Kai calls the man a liar in his original posting. Without knowing anything at all about this guy, Kai assumes he is lying and then posts several photos of him and his female companion (who is wearing a mask) on his FB page. Totally unacceptable and speaks volumes of the character of Kai Hagen. I understand from a friend that now Kai's sister is posting photos of people not wearing masks on her FB page too. Two of a kind from the same pod. I'm wearing my mask and distancing. The man in the store without a mask was wrong, but it is not up to other individuals to police him. It is none of my business what someone else does. Let management and law enforcement take care of that. I am betting this is the first time a Frederick County elected official has harassed an individual on social media. We can do better at the polls next time around. And if Kai thought his decision to harass the guy was a correct one, why did he hide it on his FB page? Because over 2,000 people told him how wrong he was. This FB posting will continue to haunt Kai for a long time.

KellyAlzan

I do appreciate you informing us, I really do.

Do you or anyone have screen shots of Kai’s original posts that you can email them to the FNP?

Also, Kai took the posts down, from what I understand. If he is so right in his actions as he wishes he were, then why did he remove the posts???

threecents

Kelly, He explained that in the article.

KellyAlzan

So my point is to show that Kai isn’t capable of using sound judgement. We needs leaders that use sound judgement

neilyoungfan25

Kelly - Kai said he took them down because of threats and nasty phone calls. We all know that is not the reason. The majority of the comments he received were not in his favor. Yes, there were lots of screenshots of his page floating all over social media in reference to his posting about the experience at Food Lion and the photos of the people Hagen harassed. I am sure at election time you will see them again. I am sure the FNP received screenshots of the Hagen posting including the photos, but they (FNP) were decent enough not to post them.

threecents

Nope, He said he did not take them down - just changed the privacy settings. But more importantly, it is ridiculous to see Blaine outraged by someone else's apparent rudeness. I remember reading about you throwing hard candy at people at the Great Frederick Fair - back when you were an elected county official.

minarempe123

I have screenshots and I sent them to FNP. Got no response.

awteam2000

Neil, would you confront a drunk person from getting behind the steering wheel?

awteam2000

We are fighting two viruses COVID-19 and stupidity. Hopefully we’ll eventually get handle on the COVID virus but stupidity will be with use for ever.

chris

People here are using the word 'bullying' an awful lot to describe someone correctly pointing out the need to wear a mask. So weak. Little babies. Soft serve.

KellyAlzan

Taking pictures? In such a manner? That’s acceptable behavior?

Sorry. I disagree. bullying is exactly what it is. No two ways about it.

chris

Acceptable behavior when pointing out a selfish and callous disregard for everyone else in the store, yes. It's just a shame that this is even necessary. Stores should be enforcing this up front, no two ways about it.

Better yet--maybe people could simply abide by the rules and stop being a problem: wear a mask or stay outside.

KellyAlzan

I do not consider calling someone who he didn’t know “a liar” to be “acceptable”

Isn’t that behaving similar as Kirbie and Ba’Lane?

NewMarketParent

Taking pictures is not bullying. It is shaming. Shaming is what people should feel like when they both feel like they want to engage in the public but not be responsible for their behavior in the public.

If you want to walk around in your house naked... go do it. If you want to walk around in a store like that, be prepared to explain why and be asked to leave.

threecents

[thumbup]Too many snowflakes for July.

schaeferhund

Fine the store's management for not enforcing the governor's executive order. Fine the individual for not obeying the governor's executive order. They were both putting other shoppers at risk. And definitely: if someone has a medical condition preventing them from wearing a mask, even a seemingly athletic person, then the store should make accommodations, but not exceptions. While discretely taking the matter to the state police and/or health department may have been preferable, what Mr. Hagen did was fair. If individuals and businesses aren't going to comply, and if law enforcement cannot keep up, this is a citizen's only recourse.

schaeferhund

I meant "discreetly." Meh.

chris

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

NewMarketParent

Exactly. These people are so scared to put a piece of cloth in front of their faces that they will find any excuse to avoid it and then cry foul when asked to keep other safe. It is that same selfish, entitled behavior that is making MD start to spike again.

DickD

This is interesting for several reasons. First, everyoneshould wear a mask and if they have a medical condition a plastic shield. There is absolutely no reason for not wearing some kind of face protection. .

Food Lion is ducking their responsibility and they are part of the problem.

But Kai was overboard on this too. He should have politely inquired respectfully told the man there are alternatives and went to Food Lion's management to discuss it.

We do need a County ordinance on face masks. This is Kai's opportunity.

lilysue22

If I saw someone not wearing a mask the last thing I would want to do is talk to them and get their spit in my 6 feet radius. There's no reason to take photos of people and post them publicly, that's just unnecessary. I do wonder what medical condition he has where he can't wear a mask. If he can't wear a mask he should definitely stay home as much as possible. But people have a right to be as stupid as they want to be.

KellyAlzan

Exactly. We ALL know what a person WITHOUT a mask looks like.

awteam2000

Ones right to be stupid ends when it infringes on others. You have the right to get drunk but you don’t have the right to drive a car putting others at risk.

Dwasserba

Your right to be stupid stops where my right to survive it starts.

threecents

DW[thumbup]

lilysue22

then how come stupid people are allowed to buy guns [lol]

NewMarketParent

Because they are fed a steady diet of fear and prepared for the inevitable burglar breaking into their house at the middle of the night (that is most likely someone in their family coming home unannounced and late). Those scenarios end up in tragedy too many times.

NewMarketParent

The problem is that this infection is highly transmissible. That makes not wearing a mask dangerous to others. If you can't wear one, make accommodations. I am sure there would have been staff to get you the things you need rather than expose their other customers to getting sick. Your fight to throw your fist ends at my nose.

mgoose806

Kai Hagen apparently doesn't realize he is not the sovereign ruler of Frederick County. You're a County Councilman doing a marginal job at best. Leave enforcement of wearing masks to those that are charged to do so.

hayduke2

mgoose - who exactly is in charge of enforcement for mask wearing????

NewMarketParent

If someone else was enforcing that, then Kai wouldn't have had to. How are we supposed to look out each other, by letting bad behavior slide?

That always seems to work. /s

FrederickFan

Seems like the FNP is turning into a gossip column! Why in the world is this in the newspaper? Write a real news story.

KellyAlzan

An elected official behaving poorly in public. An elected official bullying.

#newsworthy

neilyoungfan25

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Berryman

Masks and balloon buffoonery. It wreaks of "Hagen has too much time on his hands." What hobby should we suggest to him, folks?

threecents

Berry, You don't think Covid-19 is an important topic?

KellyAlzan

Berry didn’t say it isn’t an important topic

KellyAlzan

To this day I’m still upset that Steve McKay voted to in approval of Hagen’s balloon ban.

DickD

You release a lot of balloons Kelly?

KellyAlzan

I DO now!

hayduke2

Kelly - Then you are in the catergory of those who view themselves as mask patriots.

KellyAlzan

LOL!

I cover my face, I want this virus GONE.

threecents

Kelly, I am starting to question my vote for you as sheriff.[thumbdown]

vjhughes

She must, since she’s so full of hot air. ;-)

threecents

When you are sheriff, I hope you enforce the balloon law and whatever laws there are regarding masks.

KellyAlzan

I won’t enforce any laws with loose ends. I won’t enforce any laws that aren’t worth the paper it’s written on. The balloon law of Frederick co is unenforceable

threecents

My first thought was the guy should wear a face shield if he can't wear a mask, so I am glad that Kei suggested it and the FNP wrote about it. They are inexpensive and easily available from online vendors. Sorry if that shopper was put on the spot, but the more people who comply with the governor's orders, the more lives are saved and the faster businesses can open.

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup]

vjhughes

Exactly this, three.

KellyAlzan

Clearly bullying. Is Hagen related to Kirbie and Billie?

girlpolitic

FNP now writing stories based on FACEBOOK post? It won't be long now. Will the last person out the door please turn out the lights?

hayduke2

But jersey, then where will you post your inane comments???

vjhughes

🤣😆🤣😆🤣

C.D.Reid

Probably where you'll post you own inane comments, hay, wherever that may be.

hayduke2

inane - word of the day [lol][lol]

niceund

I think it is safe and courteous for everyone to be wearing some type of face covering during this pandemic. That said, Kai Hagen is not the mask police. His bullying tactics are well known. Time to defund him.

hayduke2

If people don't speak up, who is going to take on the role of "mask police." And yes, I think given today's climate it is risky to approach people about harmful behavior because courtsey and common sense have been eroded during the past few years.

threecents

We should all be mask police. Today I saw someone at Wegmans with her mask over her chin. I should have said something, but I was afraid I would sound rude. But this is not a game or just some political opinion. This is about a mission to do what we can to protect each other, so we can all get back to our lives.

NewMarketParent

Exactly. Human beings are very equipped emotionally to process shame. If they are shameless, than they need to be made to feel more shame. This only works when we all follow the rules. Otherwise, everyone has made their mask sacrifice for naught. You want to shop in the public? Wear a mask. You want to participate in public? Wear a mask. If you can't? We figure out a way to keep the rest of us safe, but let you get the things you need, but you can't be in the public without being able to keep the rest of us safe. It really is that simple. The public and common good is exactly that. We all need to be Khai.

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