COVID-19 spike, is the mask mandate really working?

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- Springfield City Council just voted to extend the masking ordinance, and as cases rise, medical officials are urging for more mask ordinances, not only in Springfield.

Clay Goddard, Steve Edwards, and Brent Hubbard all urged for masking ordinances and gave anecdotal and scientific proof.

“We know that whether or not masking is 20% effective, or 50% effective, or 90% effective, they are effective, and they will save lives,” said CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards.

It’s the question many on both sides are wondering, how do we know masks are working?

Since COVID-19 cases have grown exponentially since the Springfield masking ordinance took effect in mid-July, Springfield-Greene County Health Director Clay Goddard says we should look at instances of masking used effectively while in close quarters.

“Steve has talked about how they don’t have documented transmission from staff in hospital settings. We heard our university presidents talk about how they have no had classroom transmissions to staff as well,” said Goddard.

Goddard says individual behavior is the most significant vulnerability.

“When people become comfortable in a setting, they go to lunch with a coworker; they remove the mask, that’s where we see a lot of those situations start to go wrong,” Goddard said.

Hospital leaders at both Cox and Mercy say the confusion lies in the numbers. It looks like there has been a spike in cases from Springfield patients, but in reality, the numbers include people from around the Ozarks.

“Our patients that are admitted to the hospital really represent 14 different counties today, and 30% of those are Greene County,” said Mercy Hospital Springfield President Brent Hubbard.

“The ten counties with the highest new cases are all rural counties. Three of those are immediately adjacent in our market. Wright County, Polk County, and Benton County, and I’ll acknowledge all ten of those counties who have the highest increasing rates are counties that don’t do masking. So whether or not masking works, that’s a piece of evidence that’s fairly compelling to us,” said Edwards.

As of Monday, 84 of the 130 COVID-19 patients in Springfield hospitals are from outside Greene County. The other cases are from counties that do not have masking mandates. All three health officials would like to see a statewide masking mandate.

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