SPRINGFIELD, Mo- Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Clay Goddard says he’s working on a potential face mask ordinance to present to Springfield City Council.
The potential of an ordinance requiring citizens to wear face masks in some capacity was brought up during the City Council lunch Tuesday, June 23rd, and again Monday, June 29th, during the City Council meeting.
“In the past few weeks, our office has been inundated with feedback regarding the idea of universal masking requirements in Springfield,” says Health Director Clay Goddard.
Goddard says staff at the Health Department have been compiling best practices for masking ordinances in other cities, like Fayetteville and Kansas City, and hopes to be presenting that new information to City Council members soon.
When asked by Councilman Craig Hosmer if Goddard was actively working on a masking ordinance, Goddard said he had met with City Attorney Rhonda Lewsader on Monday and began crafting the potential ordinance that afternoon.
Goddard says he also plans to meet later this week with the community’s top infectious disease doctors to discuss their opinion on what is needed.
“In public health, we are always advocating for evidence-based decision making, and so one of the main topics during this discussion will be on metrics and what might be a trigger for the enactment of an ordinance if you choose to wait for a trigger to do so.,” said Goddard in Monday’s meeting.
Goddard says using local hospital data from preoperative COVID-19 testing for all elective surgeries could be used as a sample to show when the disease is more widely spread, thus finding the potential trigger-point.
And when Council Hosmer asked if the city would have the legal authority to require masking, Goddard responded: “That’s my understanding, but I’ll tell you this, the virus doesn’t really care about those factors, it’s just looking for vulnerabilities.”
Goddard and council members also address the recent debate over masking across the country.
“This is an exceptionally polarizing issue that emotes strong reactions, and I get it. People are tired of COVID-19; we want our normal lives back. We’re done with this virus psychologically. The only problem is, and I can assure you this, the virus is not done with us,” said Goddard.
“I think the masking debate has become just the latest physical example of how people are responding to this crisis. I think all of us want to return to normal. I think we just differ on how we want to get there.”
Goddard says he believes both sides of the argument simply want the same thing – to return to normal. He says those who oppose wearing a mask wish to get back to their normal lives and hope the virus simmers until a vaccine can be developed.
And on the other side, Goddard says those in favor of wearing masks likely see it as a short term fix for normalcy to avoid other disruptions such as a return to a stay-at-home order.
“I personally fall into the second group,” Goddard said.
Goddard says while he agrees masking is not perfect, it is just one tool that citizens can still voluntarily use to mitigate spread in the community along with physical distancing.