Face coverings may soon be required within Springfield city limits

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 7:40 PM CDT
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As much of our region is opening up after closing for the COVID-19 pandemic medical professionals say the number of positive cases is on the rise.

Now, Springfield City leaders are considering taking steps to require us to wear face masks while in public indoor spaces as a means of slowing the spread.

Clay Goddard, Director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department addressed city council during a meeting Tuesday.

"We continue to urge people to utilize that practice. The question is, is the community ready for an ordinance," he said.

Council is now considering that question, make people wear masks or not?

Council member Craig Hosmer said, "If we don't do something and there is a resurgence it's going to be tough and pull back and close what we've already opened."

Medical experts, like Dr. Robin Trotman with Cox Health, has seen more patients in the last two weeks than any other time of the year.

That's leading him to see the importance of masks.

"At first I was probably a little bit skeptical too. We think about a mask as 100 percent effective, all the time, for all diseases. That's why we wear them in health care. That's not going to be the case in the community but what if you can inhibit 95 percent of the cases? Right now that would probably save lives," he said.

Case in point; the exposure case at the Great Clips Salon on Glenstone.

If you had two sick hairdressers and 140 people didn't get sick, we know there should have been five to 10 cases out of that," said Trotman. "There were zero and there was zero follow up on those cases with those people so they didn't have family getting sick."

Springfield-Greene County Health Department leaders agree.

Assistant Director Katie Towns said, "Until we get to a point where we have an intervention on a large scale like a vaccine or something along those lines, we have to use the tools available to us."

Doctors know many people wouldn't like the idea of forced masking but to them, it's about sacrificing a little to save, perhaps, a lot of lives.

"It's not political. It has nothing to do with your independent liberties. The health department can tell you you have to wear shoes and shirt in a restaurant. There are just certain liberties that we give up in order to function as a normal society," said Trotman.

It's why local government is considering other options to protect the public.

Hosmer said, "I would suggest that we look at some requirement for masking."

"It only takes a few cases to spread rapidly," said Towns.

"I don't want to stay at home for a month and a half just like you don't," said Trotman.

Right now, the only city in our area to have some type of ordinance requiring masks is Fayetteville Arkansas.

Officials in Joplin voted against a similar ordinance Wednesday night.