Joplin Council votes “No” on face mask ordinance

Health director gives update on Joplin and area Covid-19 numbers
Covid 19 Graphic With Mask

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin City Council votes “no” on an amended mask ordinance as COVID-19 cases increase throughout Jasper County.

City and health officials continue to discuss ways to help curb the spread of the virus (see numbers presented at the meeting later in the article). They proposed a mask ordinance as one idea.

This evening’s meeting lasted four hours with a short break.

Several residents and medical professionals stood up and spoke to the Council. Many residents and business owners who spoke were against the ordinance, for several reasons, from liberty, normalcy, to concern of losing customers. Residents against the ordinance included some in the medical field. Officials from local hospitals spoke in support of the ordinance, in part giving their current experience at work.

More than three hours into the meeting, council members voiced their concerns and other thoughts on the ordinance. Some had issues with the wording of the ordinance, saying as is, they wouldn’t pass it. Concern over enforcement was also voiced, as was concern over people becoming more divided by trying to personally enforce a passed ordinance. They did agree that something does need to happen to help stop the spread.

Council voted in favor of amending the ordinance first. They then voted 5 to 4 against the face mask ordinance.

Proposed Draft Ordinance

The ordinance would have required people to wear face masks that cover the nostrils and mouth to help restrict the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

It would have required all people six (6) years old or older who are present in the City of Joplin to wear face masks covering their mouth and nostrils when they leave their place of residence and shall wear one when they are within six feet of another person who is not a member of the household.

Exceptions for face covers in the draft included:

  • For those who fall into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for those who should not wear face coverings due to a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental disability, or are otherwise covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act; or
  • For children under 6 years old; or
  • For people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering; or
  • For restaurant patrons while they are dining; or
  • For individuals exercising outdoors or while walking or exercising with other people from the same household, if social distancing from others who are not your family or household members can be maintained; or
  • For engaging in organized group or team sports, exercise or other physical activities where it is not practicable or feasible to wear a mask or socially distance; or
  • In settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, including when obtaining or rendering goods or services, such as the receipt of dental services or medical treatments.

You can read the full draft of the proposed ordinance by clicking here.

The proposed ordinance would have been enforced first by administering education and an opportunity for compliance, followed by a warning, then a civil citation only if necessary. The ordinance reads that a violation would be punishable by a fine of $0 to $250, at the court’s discretion.

The Joplin Police Chief Sloan Rowland said there would be some challenges enforcing it from trying to prove medical conditions or religious affiliations, etc.

Joplin Health Director Dan Pekarek gave an update on COVID-19 related numbers for the City of Joplin.

Below is a chart presented by Pekarek:4 State Area County Numbers, June 24, 2020

Pekarek says Jasper, Newton, McDonald and Crawford Counties in our area are driving the spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days.

Joplin is up to 100 cases as of June 24, with 59 active cases under isolation and 41 people who have completed isolation. There have been no deaths in Joplin as of today.

Daily Count Of Pcr Tests In Blue, Pcr Rate Positive In Orange

This chart is for Jasper and Newton Counties. There were increases in drives of PCR tests recently which is shown by the blue bars. The orange line shows the positivity rate of those PCR tests. The positivity rate has started going back up again.

Other Metrics From Joplin Health Director

The slide above shows other metrics for Joplin

There are currently two people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Joplin. The City has seen a trend of a 208% increase over a seven day period. Across Missouri, there’s an 8.9% increase.

Pekarek expressed concerned that people are getting relaxed on recommendations, saying social distancing is still very important. The council and he also discussed several cases stemming from area plants and coming after family/friend gatherings in which a member had COVID-19.