JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – Beginning Friday, people in Jefferson County will be required to wear a mask to fight the spread of COVID-19. The Jefferson County Health Board approved a mask order Wednesday by a 3-2 vote.
It’s been a pressing issue since August when the board overturned a mask order the day after it passed.
The new proposal says, “all persons age 10 and above are required to wear a clean face mask any time they are or will be in contact with other people in public spaces who are not household members.”
A retiring health department worker blasted the board for its lack of response to the pandemic Monday.
But some people are not thankful for the new mandate. The order does not have any teeth. There’s no fine for individuals or businesses who violate the order.
“I don’t know how they will enforce it without some sort of fine,” said Robert Perris, who supports the order. “My sister knows two of her personal friends that have died from the virus. I mean, it’s a minor inconvenience.”
Some anti-maskers gathered outside the health department Wednesday, holding signs and letting their feelings known.
Health director Kelley Vollmar said studies consistently show lower rates in counties with mask orders.
“The increase in cases is actually much lower in mandate counties than they are in non-mandated counties for masks,” she said. “This isn’t about restricting individuals; this is about saving lives.”
Board member Suzy Davis opposed the order, saying the fall-out could be worse than the benefit.
“Half of my family have gotten COVID,” she said. “My extended family, they were all avid mask users and the rest of us not wearing masks haven’t gotten it.”
COVID-19 numbers are grim in Jefferson County. With seven more COVID-related deaths reported Wednesday, the county has now topped 100 deaths and 11,000 cases total. Although the positivity rate is down to 30 percent from nearly 37 percent Monday.
Still, people are against being forced to wear masks.
“My husband is a medical researcher and a scientist and he’s very much against the mask,” said Tonia Lovelace-Poss.
The order goes into effect Black Friday and remains in place until Dec. 21.