Supervisors hold off on mask proclamation decision

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Jones County Board of Health and Public Health approved a proclamation during a special meeting on Sept. 25 “strongly encouraging” residents of and visitors to Jones County to wear face coverings when in public.

     The proclamation then went before the Jones County Supervisors at their Sept. 29 board meeting, where they voted to table any action until the public had a chance to voice their opinion.

     Public Health Coordinator Jenna Lovaas said the BOH is looking for the county’s support in this.

     Lovaas reported 109 active COVID-19 cases in Jones County, bringing the running total since the start of the pandemic to 284.

     “All the more important to wear a mask,” urged Lyle Theisen, chair of the BOH, noting the increase in cases.

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach, who also sits on the BOH, said County Attorney Kristofer Lyons reviewed the proclamation, and while there is no enforcement, it’s a strong recommendation.

     Lisa Mootz, county IT coordinator, informed the supervisors that the county’s wellness committee strongly opposes a mask mandate.

     Noting that it is not a mandate, Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach asked, “Why bother if it’s a recommendation? There’s nothing to enforce.”

     “If you say it’s important, it makes a difference,” noted Lovaas of having the county’s governing body stand behind the proclamation.

     She said Jones County’s proclamation is similar to that in Scott and Muscatine counties.

     Manternach said the supervisors have approved proclamations for many other groups and organizations in the past; this is nothing different.

     “It is our BOH in charge of the pandemic and on the frontlines,” added Manternach.

     Despite tabling any action, Supervisor Joe Oswald asked that the proclamation stipulate that those with disabilities or health issues would not be required to wear a mask. He said this aligns more with the state’s proclamation.

     In terms of the COVID-19 numbers, Lovaas said it’s more widespread across the county than concentrated in one area.

     Lovaas also updated the board on the state’s new COVID guidelines.

     “Those primarily impact schools and businesses,” she said.

     Basically, if you wear a mask and you’re around someone who tests positive, you don’t have to quarantine because you wore a mask. If you were wearing any other type of face covering other than a mask, then you have to quarantine for 14 days.

     Lovaas spoke to Linn and Johnson counties regarding the new guidelines. Both counties, as well as Jones, will reluctantly follow the new guidelines.

     “There is a lot we don’t agree with,” noted Lovaas. “It doesn’t line up with CDC guidelines. While less people will have to quarantine, you’ll potentially have more cases.”

     Emergency Management Coordinator Brenda Leonard reported that she is back to providing PPE to all local schools. She reached out to the districts asking they submit what they might need for a 30-day supply.

     “Gloves are still extremely hard to find and extremely expensive,” Leonard said.


Subscriber Login