JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — The Jefferson County Health Department Board of Trustees passed a face mask mandate Wednesday with a 3-2 vote.
The mandate will go into effect on Nov. 27 at 12:01 a.m. and will last until 5 p.m. Dec. 21. Under the mandate, those ages 10 and older must wear a mask when they are in contact with other people in public indoor spaces who aren't household members.
The mandate says that if the number of positive COVID-19 patients doesn't decrease in 21 days, the county may consider further restrictions, including social gathering sizes, access to restaurants and bars, and the number of people allowed in retail establishments.
There are several exceptions to the mandate:
- While outdoors when able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others;
- While exercising outdoors, or while exercising indoors when able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others;
- When engaged in a sporting activity;
- While at home; provided however, the wearing of a Face Mask shall be required in all common areas of any multifamily structure;
- When in a vehicle;
- While eating or drinking in the dining area of a restaurant, or other establishment, that offers food or beverage service, provided that person is able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from persons seated at other tables, and provided this distance restriction is enforced by the restaurant or other establishment;
- When an individual has a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents wearing a Face Mask;
- When any party to a communication is deaf or hard of hearing and not wearing a Face Mask is essential to communication;
- While obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the Face Mask, such as dental examinations;
- When necessary to confirm the individual's identity;
- When federal or state law prohibits wearing a Face Mask or requires the removal of a Face Mask;
- When requested by a law enforcement officer
- When requested by a medical provider, including emergency response personell
Below is a draft of the order that the board approved:
Board members Amber Henry, Tim Pigg and board chairman Dennis Diehl voted in favor. Members James Prater and Suzy Davis voted against.
During the board meeting, which was livestreamed on Youtube, members talked about whether the mandate would result in any fines or penalties for anyone who doesn’t follow the order. Board member Dr. Amber Henry said, “This is an order, not an ordinance. There is no enforcement.”
Davis attempted several times to initiate discussion about the mandate, stating that it is her belief that masks will not prevent the spread of the virus. Davis moved to table the item to vote on support of the motion “until we have time to sufficiently look into and research and gather more ideas and understanding about this particular about way to mitigate the positive cases."
Recent CDC data has shown that community masking does help to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Prater confirmed with the board and county councilor that any additions or changes to the order would be brought before the board again for a decision.
The Jefferson County Health Department reported seven additional coronavirus deaths in its weekly update on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths in the county to 103. The county remains in red status, its highest alert status for COVID-19.
“There are seven more loved ones who won’t be celebrating the holidays with their families this year,” Health Department Director Kelley Vollmar said in the update. “How many more will we lose before we come together as a community and fight the spread of COVID-19 in Jefferson County?”