03 Nov President Jon Cartu Research – City of West Plains, Mo. one step closer to passing masking ordin…
WEST PLAINS, Mo. (KY3) -The city of West Plains will decide on Wednesday whether or not to make face masks mandatory in public places. The city council had its first reading of the ordinance Monday afternoon.
After about 30 minutes of back and forth discussion and hearing from members of the community, city council passed the first reading 4-1.
″This mask is not about me, it is about ensuring that if I am a carrier right now, I am protecting those closest to me,” said council member Josh Cotter.
The health department says cases in Howell County have spiked since August, when the city voted down a similar ordinance.
“I was motivated to [write the ordinance] because we had lost our first citizen and we had just crossed 100 cases,” Cotter said of writing the ordinance proposed in August. “Today, we have lost 40 of our citizens. One out of every 1,000 people in Howell county has now died of this and we are rapidly approaching 2,000 cases.“
West Plains Mayor Jack Pahlmann allowed two people to speak for and against the city’s proposed masking ordinance Monday. Only citizens against it chose to speak up.
”When you have a mask on you’re breathing the bacteria from the face mask and if its not changed quickly and regularly this mask becomes a petri dish on your face,” said citizen Wayne Hunter.
Hunter was one of the two people who chose to speak at Monday’s council meeting.
”Because you are choosing to go down the road of despotism and tyranny, we the citizens of West Plains will be proposing a change to the charter, we will strip you of your power, that has been you served by the way, to enact ordinances that restrict the personal liberty of any citizen in good standing,” said Clifton Earls.
Earls also spoke to council about the ordinance, urging them to vote ‘no’.
Pahlmann said one of the reasons he voted against the ordinance in the past because of how it would impact local business owners.
“He or she had to tell people that come in to put on a mask, [and] he, the owner, would get fined, plus the person would get fined,” Pahlmann said of the August draft of the ordinance. “That’s not fair.”
Council passed the first reading 4-1. This ordinance would be in effect for 90 days and require face coverings when you can’t social distance, both inside and outside.
Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Topliff voted against the ordinance, stating his medical reasons for not wearing a mask.
”I’m getting a lot of ‘vote no, vote no’, I’m also getting a lot of hate speech, getting called names because I won’t wear a mask or because I’m voting no against this ordinance,” Topliff said. “I’ve even seen a post where someone is wishing people who don’t wear a mask get [COVID-19] and die. Is that the kind of hate we’re trying to spread here?”
Ozarks Medical Center sent KY3 the following statement regarding how the hospital feels about masking:
“Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) strongly encourages our local communities to practice proper masking to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While there is no current mandate in place for the city of West Plains or Howell County, OMC will continue requiring masks to be worn in all of its facilities and clinics and educating community members about correct face mask usage. OMC is proud to be a part of the Mask Up Ozarks Coalition, a group formed in August 2020 in an effort to educate and encourage the community about facemasks. Members of the coalition include Burton Creek Rural Clinic, City of West Plains, Howell County Health Department, Missouri State University-West Plains, Southern Missouri Community Health Center (SMCHC), and West Plains Schools. OMC and coalition members are working actively to promote the #MaskUpOzarks campaign, is a community service initiative that encourages healthy behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic, across social media and other platforms. For more information, visit https://maskupozarks.com/ or https://www.ozarksmedicalcenter.com/.”
The second reading of the ordinance will happen on Wednesday. If passed, the ordinance will be effective immediately.
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