Local officials respond to health care providers request for mask mandates

JASPER/NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Local officials and communities have responded to the call from health care providers to implement mask mandates in their communities.

Local health care providers have called on community leaders in our area to issue mask mandates in their communities to help slow the spread of COVID-19 amid a rise in cases. However, not everyone has the authority to issue a mandate. Newton County Presiding Commissioner Bill Reiboldt says “It’s not really our decision to make on local municipalities, but yes, I think it’s important but that’s going to be a decision for our Newton County Health Director.”

Newton County Health Department Administrator Larry Bergner says right now, he doesn’t feel a mask mandate is necessary. “I’ve always found you get more compliance usually with education and I’d like to think that the citizens of Newton County and the citizens of Missouri, that we are, we observe enough of what’s going on in our communities that we will comply when we see the need to comply.”

Four cities issued statements Tuesday night responding to the health care providers requests for mask mandates. Joplin says it’s looking to see how the region will respond. Mayor Ryan Stanley said in his letter quote “At the close of (Monday night’s) council meeting, I received confirmation from the council to contact the county commissioners to learn their intended next step in this matter.”

Three cities responded in a unified statement saying quote “The cities of Carl Junction, Carthage, and Webb City jointly encourage our good citizens to double down on your COVID protocols. We cannot predict that doubling down on these protocols will change the curve but if it keeps just one person out of the hospital our extra efforts will have been worth it. We trust our good people to do their part and know in our three cities that we are in this together.”

We also reached out to the Jasper County Commissioners who provided this response saying quote “We encourage the residents of Jasper and surrounding counties to please do their part in wearing masks, social distancing and limiting the size of gatherings in an effort to stop the spread. It is our hope that all residents take these recommendations seriously and practice them fully.”

At this time only the City of Joplin is considering a mask mandate. It will be taken up at a special meeting Thursday night at 6:00pm.