(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) As our area remains a Covid-19 hotspot, the Centers for Disease Control's newest recommendation on wearing masks indoors would certainly apply to St. Joseph.
Mayor Bill McMurray called the need for the reversal of the CDC's previous stance concerning and added that local Covid-19 numbers right now tell the story.
"We really need to get our vaccination numbers up," He said.
The St. Joseph Health Department reported 51 people were in the hospital battling the virus as of July 22, the vaccination rate remained low at 19.9%.
St. Joseph is not alone, much of Missouri is seeing rising cases. Larger cities in the state such as St. Louis and Kansas City have reinstated mask ordinances. The state’s attorney general has now filed suit against both cities.
"It certainly shows a division of opinion on mask mandates," McMurray said.
The division is also local, McMurray said he doesn’t have enough support from the council to reintroduce another mask mandate.
He said an emergency ordinance would likely get overturned.
"It’s senseless for me to do that unless I have a majority support of the council," He said.
Local business owners said they likely wouldn't enforce the new guidelines right away, though virus spread is something they continue to watch.
"Our biggest concern is our customer safety and so some of our staff will wear [masks]," Andrew Montee, owner, Mokaska Coffee said. "We’ll encourage vaccines and do what needs to be done."
Local health officials are watching the virus’ ability to mutate into more variants, they continue to push for more vaccinations.
"Every new infection raises the risk of a new mutation," Debra Bradley, director St. Joseph Health Dept. said. "The key to stopping that is to vaccinate, wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands, all those things we’ve been saying for months and months and months."
Everyone now is hoping people make the right call, and do what’s necessary to stop the new spread.
"Let’s let personal responsibility win this battle," McMurray said. "Right now we’re losing, but let’s win it."
McMurray said he's restarted weekly Covid-19 briefings with Mosaic in response to rising case numbers. A vaccination clinic is set for Thursday, July 29 at the Covid-19 Community Clinic (formerly Gordman's) at the East Hills Mall.