The Debate on Forcing the Wearing of Masks Continues

To force wearing a mask or not to mask, that is the question facing mayors throughout Iowa. No such effort has been discussed by local mayors, but if it were, those who want to take such action say their hands are tied.

Some major cities such as Kansas City have extended the requirement to wear a mask in public. Some parts of Iowa are seeing a resurgence of coronavirus cases after the state officials loosened business restrictions. Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson said she wanted to protect the the Muscatine residents, as case activity increased in her city. She issued a mandate for residents to wear masks in public, but county and state leaders said she couldn’t issue that mandate.

Broderson said her legal team has been investigating the issue.

The proclamations’ enforcement hasn’t been resolved. County officials have said the mayor overstepped her authority because Iowa law doesn’t allow cities to issue such mandates.

They cite opinions from the state attorney general, who has said local orders need to be consistent with action taken by Gov. Kim Reynolds. The governor has resisted a statewide mask mandate, saying it should be up to individuals to decide when and where to wear a mask. Reynolds latest emergency proclamation encouraged Iowans to follow the state health department guidelines, which don’t require wearing a mask.

Closer to home, Winnebago and Hancock County Emergency Coordinator Andy Buffington believes that masking should be up to the individual and the circumstances.

For Buffington and many others in the area, it’s a matter of social responsibility. Protecting others while protecting yourself. Walking into a large store with numerous customers would call for someone to mask themselves, but walking into a location where hardly anyone is around may not.

While medical experts have said wearing face masks is a key step in helping to limit the spread of COVID-19, no scientific data has been presented that shows the spread of COVID-19 is halted completely by wearing the masks.

The state health guidelines are online at idph.iowa.gov.

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