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City council could reconsider mask ordinance if Covid-19 cases rise

The latest numbers show a steady climb in Covid-19 cases in the county. City leaders want to consider all options as kids head back to school.

Posted: Aug 20, 2020 11:53 PM
Updated: Aug 21, 2020 7:59 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It was a busy Wednesday afternoon for city leaders during this week’s work session on Covid-19.

The city received an update on the virus’ impact locally, the latest numbers they say are unsettling.

As of Wednesday, there were 18 Covid-19 patients in the hospital, of them four were in the intensive care unit, and one is on a ventilator.

Mayor Bill McMurray expressed concern over the rise in local Covid-19 cases.

St. Joseph Health Department staff said the rising numbers show that people who are in contact with someone who tests positive are also catching the virus, or at least showing symptoms.

"What we’re finding are clusters of cases," Debra Bradley, Health director said.  "To me that says a mask order would be beneficial."

As a result of these recent developments, the council is considering taking another look at the city’s mask ordinance.

"I think now is the time before school starts that we have this difficult conversation of having a blanket mask mandate," Brian Myers, city councilman said.  

There’s still a difference of opinion among members however, some say most are against wearing them.

"Two to three percent of people maybe are wearing masks," city councilman PJ Kovac said. "People are against it, I’m against it." 

Perhaps adding to the pressure on city leaders to make a decision, schools in the area will soon be in session. The St. Joseph School District is set to start class August 31st.

The district's superintendent is moving forward on his own plans, requiring masks on school property where social distancing could not be reached. 

Whatever the city wants to go ahead with, councilmembers said they have one goal in mind.

"Any measures we take should be designed to suppress this virus," city councilman Russell Moore said. 

City council members plan to wait for one week before they make a decision on moving ahead with any change in ordinances. They also plan to meet with staff from Missouri Western State University next week. 

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Comfortable and mild conditions are set to continue today with highs in the upper 70s and lower 80s under partly cloudy skies. Winds will be a bit breezy today with gusts up to 25 mph. A weak cold front will move through the area later this evening. Clouds will build into the area today as the front passes. A few isolated areas of light rain can’t be ruled out as the front moves through. Temperatures will remain in the 70s on Saturday under mostly sunny skies. Temperatures will really start to warm up on Sunday with highs in the upper 80s. Above average temperatures will continue through the beginning of next week as sunny and dry weather remains.
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