(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray is expected to sign an emergency order Tuesday to expand St. Joseph's mask mandate.
“What brought this about was the rapid increase of cases at Mosaic. Just a week ago, we had 16 people in the hospital. Today, we have 36 people in the hospital. So, this tremendous bump in the number of hospitalizations is a great concern,” said Mayor McMurray.
The order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday for a period of 30 days and will require masks in all indoor public places.
Mosaic Life Care released a statement saying they support "a city-wide mask mandate to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Our COVID-19 positive patient numbers continue to increase at an alarming rate at Mosaic. We are not powerless in the fight against COVID-19. We must continue to wear a face mask, maintain physical distance and wash our hands to kepp our families, friends and communites safe. Together, we can accomplish this."
Mosaic added, "please heed the mask mandate and continue to physically distance and practice hand hygiene. The benefits to our families, our society and our economy are worth it."
Councilman Kent O'Dell has changed tune on the mask mandate, issuing an apology for his previous stance on the debate.
“Let me apologize to the doctors and nurses cause for five or six weeks now, I’ve kinda been the one holding out and seeing what would develop. I never knew it was going to explode like it did. I never meant for this to happen so fast,” said Kent O'Dell, City Councilman.
O'Dell said once he lost a loved one to the virus and multiple family members have suffered, he wants to help decrease the hospitalizations in town.
“About four weeks ago, I lost a brother and I’ve had family members get COVID. This is here in St. Joe. I have a sister that got it pretty bad and she is well now, but she’s having problems with the lungs and this goes with so many other people that nobody ever thinks about,” said O'Dell.
The St. Joseph Health Department has been asking for a citywide mask mandate for months now. Health officials said now that the city has one, they're hoping the numbers will decrease in the next 30 days.
“If we can protect as many people as we can until we can get this vaccine for people, then that’s our hope and our goal,” said Debra Bradley, St. Joseph Health Department.
The following guidelines and/or restrictions apply:
-All indoor public places must require those present to wear a mask. If a 6-foot distance can be maintained from customers and other employees, i.e., an individual office, then a mask is not required. Some additional exemptions apply.
-Business owners and managers are responsible for ensuring employees and customers wear masks or face coverings.
-Face coverings are not required in outdoor spaces.
-Face coverings continue to be required in indoor retail stores with 10,000 square feet of indoor space.
-For restaurants, bars and taverns, persons who are seated are not required to wear a mask. Customers should wear a mask when they enter and leave the premises.
Additional information can be obtained by calling the St. Joseph Health Department at 816-271-4636.
At last week's city council meeting, the council voted to extend the original city mask ordinance requiring masks in retail spaces of 10,000 square feet in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
To read the full Delaration of Emergency, CLICK HERE.
This is a breaking news story. Check back with KQ2 as updates become available.