SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Important decisions that could change Springfield residents’ daily lives are being made tomorrow.
There are a couple of items on tomorrow’s City Council agenda, the big one is the mask ordinance, mandating everyone to wear a mask while in public.
The effective date for the mask ordinance would be on July 16 but that could change depending on what is decided tomorrow night.
“Masking or face-covering option will be an additional tool that we can deploy in our community to slow the spread while we continue to reopen our economy,” said Katie Towns, the assistant director for the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
“The addition of the face-covering requirement will help us from having to step backward and have to close down the economy more,” said Cora Scott, the director of public information & civic engagement for the City of Springfield.
Katie Towns with the health department and Cora Scott with the City of Springfield says masking is an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Places across the country where masking has been required, they seen their case counts go from a rising trend to then declining,” Towns said.
“Just like seat belts, some argue that masks are uncomfortable, however, there is no doubt that both can save lives,” Scott said.
Towns explains how masks work in a community.
“Masking is really a mechanism to protect others,” Towns said. “So when I wear a mask, I’m protecting you. All of the things that we’re recommending really come from a fact-based, tested approach.”
“This is an opportunity for our entire community to embrace the power we all have individually, to help prevent needless suffering and death,” Scott said. “It’s a simple act of putting on a mask.”
Scott explains what the masking rule will be.
“Require people to wear these face coverings when they’re in spaces where there are other people,” Scott said. “When you’re in public areas. If you’re not in a public area, you won’t be required to wear.”
And explains how the rule will be enforced, if the ordinance passes.
“We’re hoping that people see it as just the right thing to do, you’re not going to see police officers necessarily arresting people on the street for not wearing a mask, but we do have penalties in place that you can get ticketed,” Scott said.
Scott said not wearing a face-covering could result in a $100 fine.
And another item on the agenda, the health department seeking approval to use their fund balance to cover the cost of bringing additional staff on board.
“We will be pursuing hiring an additional 37 people to equip us to handle this response,” Towns said. “We need additional capacity to help us with those interviews and that process by which we contact everybody that has been exposed and then put them into a situation where we’re asking them to quarantine and resist exposing other individuals.”
There are Facebook groups that have made plans to protest tomorrow’s vote on a masking ordinance.