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HILLSBORO, Mo. – Jefferson County Health Department’s Board of Trustees voted Monday to extend the county’s mask order in a 3-2 vote. The order has been extended until Jan. 21 at 5 p.m.

“Our numbers have come down a little bit over the last couple of weeks where we did anticipate we might see some increases with the Thanksgiving holiday, so very excited to see where this goes over the next month,” said Kelley Vollmar, director of Jefferson County Health Department.

The health department’s board meetings when mask order were discussed previously sparked protests in the parking lot outside the health department’s Hillsboro office. Monday’s meeting didn’t draw any protestors outside.

However, the vote on extending the mask order sparked a sometimes-heated conversation inside the meeting after two board members, Suzy David and James Prater, who also served as the secretary/treasurer, voted against extending the mask order. They also voted against the initial implementation of the mask order.

Chairman Dennis Diehl, Vice Chairman Amber Henry, and member Timothy Pigg voted in favor of extending the mask order Monday.

After voting against the order, board member Suzy Davis said, “Why should we penalize people that are healthy, don’t have symptoms, aren’t sick, they aren’t carrying a fever? Why should we expect them to feel less human than they are and ask them to do things like put a mask on their face when they feel like that is dehumanizing?”

Director Vollmar said Jefferson County has been in the red zone for the last 10 weeks, which means there is widespread uncontrolled community transmission. She credits the mask order for helping decrease the numbers, but said the numbers have not decreased enough to completely get rid of the order.

“One of the things we have to be careful of is getting rid of something that’s working,” she said. “At this point in time, what we’ve seen is a small dip in the numbers. We want to continue to see the numbers decrease over the next month or two.”