In A Unified Voice, Springfield City Council Makes Face Coverings Mandatory
With a unified voice, Springfield City Council passed an ordinance late Monday night making it mandatory for people older than 11 to wear a face covering. The ordinance goes into effect Thursday and lasts 90 days. Violators could be fined up to 100 dollars, and businesses that accommodate the public could see their licenses or permits suspended or revoked if they don’t comply.
The Springfield vote, which was 8-0 with one member abstaining, came on the same day that Greene County saw its highest daily count of new COVID-19 cases, with 49 new positive cases Monday.
Scores of citizens testified for and against the ordinance, providing nearly five hours of public comment. Hear some of their voices below:
Supporters said masking slows the spread of the disease; some argued that since public health resources are nearing their capacity, changing human behavior is the only solution that can change the trajectory of the disease. A nurse who had served in New York City when it was a COVID-19 hotspot warned of its horrors.
Opponents said the ordinance was based on fear, not science, calling into question the efficiacy of masks. One speaker called council members “human rights violators” for clamping down on civil liberties.
Dr. Robin Trotman, an infectious disease specialist at CoxHealth, told Council that local hospitalizations are on the rise. He said the community needs to slow the rate of spread.
“If we don’t do that, our resources in the hospital will be depleted. Our testing capacity will be burned through. And with 100 percent certainty, we’ll stress the system. And we’ll have worst outcomes,” Trotman said.
The mask ordinance has exemptions for people whose health prevents them from wearing face coverings. Also exempt are people who are:
- consuming food or drink;
- receiving services to their mouth or nose, like at a dentist’s office;
- those in swimming pools;
- the hearing impaired;
- speakers or performers;
- and people in a wedding party during the ceremony or while taking photographs.