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Council holds off on mask mandate decision

There was no consensus to move forward on a citywide mask mandate.

Posted: Jul 2, 2020 7:18 PM
Updated: Jul 3, 2020 8:46 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- There was no consensus among St. Joseph city council members to make a decision on whether to require people to wear masks in public.

During a weekly coronavirus briefing, three members were urging the council to move forward with a resolution that would require mask wearing. However, there was not enough support for the measure.

Council member Spanky O'Dell wants people to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, he is reluctant to push it upon the public.

"The majority doesn't want to force anything on anybody anymore," he said. "If we have a problem with numbers going up then we will have to force it on them. If we can't get some kind of validation to try and get people to quit thinking about themselves and start thinking about others and maybe wear a mask every once in a while. we might go backwards."

Those in support of mask wearing say they are additionally concerned with the 4th of July holiday this weekend and the number of gatherings that there will be. However, O'Dell countered that most of these events will probably be held outside, where the risks of spreading the coronavirus are less.

Though he did not support Thursday's motion to move forward with a mask requirement, O'Dell said he still hopes people will make an effort.

"We want people to know if we don't start being proactive and wearing masks and trying to make a difference and the numbers, we're going to force mandatory masks on them. The last thing we want is go back to Phase One again and we'll close everybody down." 

On Thursday the health department reported a total of 880 positive coronavirus cases in Buchanan County, which was an increase of seven in the last 24 hours. There have been three deaths.

Council members will discuss the issue again at their next meeting on Thursday, July 9.

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