mask mandate

During a City Council meeting last month, Springfield-Greene County health director Clay Goddard proposed a mask mandate in response to a recording-breaking amount of new cases in the county. Assistant director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department said on July 7 wearing a mask may be uncomfortable, but doing so is vital in order to make sure Missouri heads in the direction of recovery.  

With restrictions lowered and businesses reopened, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Springfield, with 487 confirmed cases as of July 11.

Clay Goddard, Springfield-Greene County health director, proposed at a city council meeting on June 23, to enforce a mask ordinance in Springfield. 

The ordinance will require anyone over the age of 11 to wear a mask and not wearing a mask could come with a $100 fine. 

During a city council meeting on July 7, assistant director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Katie Towns, said, “As of yesterday (July 6), our department reported a record of 35 new cases of COVID-19 in Greene County residence in the prior 24 hours.”

Towns said 52 confirmed cases were counted from July 3 to July 6.

“Thus far today (July 7), we received eight new case reports throughout the morning,” Towns said. ”That number will undoubtedly continue to grow.” 

“After reviewing the science (transmission statistics), there is increasingly growing evidence that suggests that transmission of this illness can be significantly decreased by masking,” Towns said.

During the meeting, Towns revisited the Great Clips exposure, which exposed nearly 140 Springfield residents and how the community has seen firsthand the prevention power of masking. 

Towns said while wearing a mask may be uncomfortable and developing a new habit is hard, increased masking will prevent Missouri from going backward toward recovery.

Kaitlyn McConnell, media relations manager of Corporate Communications, said, “It is imperative for people in our area to take action to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

McConnell said part of this effort starts with staying home as much as possible and wearing a mask when in public places.

“There is still time for people to make decisions to protect themselves, their friends, their family and their community, but it is crucial they make those steps now,” McConnell said.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), face coverings are required for employees of restaurants, personal care services, entertainment venues and gyms and fitness centers. 

This leaves most of the working population masked while on the clock and does not address customers to not wearing a mask. 

Julia Feurborn, MSU junior and creative writing major, said she thinks there needs to be a mandatory mask ordinance in Springfield.

“I work at a grocery store in Kansas, and going back to work was frightening because there were so many people who wouldn't wear masks when shopping,” Feuerborn said. 

Kansas implemented a mandatory mask order on July 3, and Feuerborn said she feels safer going to work as a result.

“I think if we expect to get rid of the virus anytime soon, we have to be willing to face an inconvenience like wearing a mask out in public, especially in places where social distancing isn’t really possible,” Feuerborn said.

MSU alumnus Elizabeth Robertson wears a mask when she goes out but said she feels a mandate will be hard to enforce.

“Since Springfield has such low COVID-19 positive cases, I believe it makes the most sense to let people decide if they want to wear a mask and let stores decide whether they would like customers to wear one,” Robertson said. 

Robertson said those who want to wear masks are already wearing them, but those who show symptoms need to mask.

A decision will be made by the City Council on whether Springfield will enforce a mask ordinance on July 13 and if passed, the mandate could take effect July 15. 

Residents are welcome to voice thoughts and concerns by signing up to speak at the next city council meeting on July 13 or by calling the City Clerk’s office at 417-874-2460.