Jones Co. BOH, public health issues mask proclamation

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     During a special Jones County Board of Health (BOH) meeting on Friday, Sept. 25, the board voted unanimously to “strongly encourage Jones County residents and all visitors to the county to wear face coverings while in public around individuals who do not reside in your household, especially when social distancing measures cannot be maintained.”

     The BOH and Jones County Public Health (JCPH) approved proclamation, which now goes to the Jones County for their consideration at their Tuesday, Sept. 29 meeting.

     If approved by the supervisors, the proclamation goes into effect immediately.

     JCPH Coordinator Jenna Lovaas shared with her board that since March, there have been 266 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Jones County. As of Friday, there were 100 active cases, and two residents hospitalized.

     Lovaas said County Attorney Kristofer Lyons reviewed the draft proclamation and didn’t see any issues with going through with it.

     “He thought it was well within what we could do,” she said.

     While the BOH and JCPH cannot require such a mandate, it is highly recommened.

     “Hopefully things will get better with wearing masks,” said County Supervisor Wayne Manternach who sits on the BOH. “It’s our theory that masks are a good thing.”

     “Masks and social distancing are all factors,” noted BOH member and Chair Lyle Theisen. “It reduces the spread (of COVID-19). Our position is clear.”

     Points of interest in the proclamation state:

     • “All available information indicates that COVID-19 continues to pose a substantial widespread risk of infection leading to a significant risk of harm to the population of Jones County, particularly as daily rates of persons testing positive in Jones County are increasing.”

     • “The CDC has determined that face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19…, particularly when used universally within communities.”

     • On Aug. 27, Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation of her own “strongly encouraging all Iowans 2 years of age or older to wear a face mask or other face coverings when in public settings,” especially when social distancing is not possible.

     • “The Iowa Department of Public Health’s re-opening guidance advises that members of the public consider the use of face coverings…”

     JCPH and the BOH advise and recommend the following community mitigation strategies be adhered to at all times:

     • Stay home when unwell

     • Wash your hands often with both soap and water for at least 20 seconds

     • Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol

     • Practice social distancing

     • Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering/shield, especially in instances when social distancing is not feasible and/or other means to provide separation are not present

     • Clean and disinfect touched surfaces and objects frequently

     • Consult your healthcare provider or public health if you have questions

     Manternach shared that Dubuque County is now breaking down their COVID-19 cases by Zip Code, and inquired as to whether Jones County saw a need to do the same.

     “It would really narrow down the area,” he said.

     Lovass explained that the state does allow Public Health entities to report numbers by Zip Code, but only when a particular Zip Code has more than five positive cases.

     “I’m hesitant,” Lovaas said. “Once we start (reporting by Zip Code), we can’t stop, and some areas/Zip Codes have no cases. People could get the mindset that there are no problems where they live.”

     JCPH Community Health Specialist Jess Wiedenhoff added that she didn’t see the relevance in reporting by Zip Code.

     “It’s not good to narrow it down,” she said.


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