New masking ordinances receive praise and criticism among city and health leaders

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A visitor wearing a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19 passes a sign requiring masks, Tuesday, July 7, 2020, in San Antonio. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared masks or face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state as local officials across the state say their hospitals are becoming increasingly stretched and are in danger of becoming overrun as cases of the coronavirus surge. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Mo.- The new masking ordinances for Ozark and Nixa were signed as executive orders, meaning they were approved without a vote from aldermen or city council members.

During the summer, both cities failed to pass similar mandates.

Ozark Alderman Jason Shaffer believes the executive order was a mistake.

“There may be some science to support the use of masks, but the reality behind it is it doesn’t have public support. And we’re on a slippery slope because if you compel people to wear masks, the next step is going to be to compel people to use vaccines or at least use your government power to induce them; even though they may not mandate a vaccine, they’re going to make you, if you want to do certain things, have a vaccination,” says Shaffer.

He adds that picking a fight over face masks will hurt Ozark in the long run as city leaders work to enact new laws or projects for the city.

Springfield hospital leaders are glad the cities finally approved ordinances since Christian County has more than 11,000 cases of COVID-19. CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards says there are 15 Christian County residents in Springfield hospitals with COVID-19, compared to 25 from Greene County.

Edwards says he is grateful for the ordinances.

“I wish they could have been able to do it earlier, but I know it’s tough, I know it’s strong sentiments, but more importantly, it’s science. Sciences is virtually unequivocal that this matters, masking is effective, it’s not infallible, but it’s effective, and if there’s something we can do to slow this thing down, we should do it,” says Edwards.

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