(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) City leaders are continuing their debate on mask usage now two weeks into their mask mandate on certain businesses.
Their attention is now turning to how they'll move forward with events and ultimately school buildings.
Even in the midst of COVID-19, events across St. Joseph are still being planned.
“The chamber has requested doing the two Parties on the Parkway,” mayor Bill McMurray said. “We also have a request for a carnival which would be on the North Belt K-Mart parking lot.”
As those events draw more people outside, city leaders are continuing to monitor the virus' spread.
With over 1,000 positive cases in the county including 10 deaths and six hospitalizations, some on the city council still say public outings should continue with no change.
“We’ve been hollering ‘wolf’ through this whole thing,” councilman PJ Kovac said. “I think we’re just fine with letting these things proceed.”
The city council ultimately decided to move forward with these events, but with caution.
“I think it's okay for us to go ahead and allow these things to happen,” councilman Kent O’Dell said. “Also keep on the back burner that if the numbers start rising, none of us are going to hesitate to mandate masks for the entire city.”
Something else city leaders are concerned about is what happens one month from now.
“One thing we’re not talking about is the 800 pound gorilla in the room and that’s what happens when school resumes,” councilman Brian Myers said.
Some on the council along with the St. Joseph Health department are encouraging mask usage for kids and parents.
Of course, COVID-19's impact on the city is largely dependent on the public's response to it.
Local health officials say it's as simple as that.
“If people are willing to celebrate at a distance from each other then great,” Director of Health at the St. Joseph Health Department Debra Bradley said. “But if they’re going to be in close proximity to each other then you are running the risk as you would anywhere else.”
The city council did discuss the idea of expanding their mask ordinance to include schools if the district chooses not to require them.
The first day of classes in the district is set for August 24.