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KSMU is dedicated to broadcasting critically important information as our community experiences the COVID-19 pandemic. Below, you'll find our ongoing coverage.

At A Feisty, Marathon City Council Meeting, Joplin Passes Masking Ordinance

KSMU-Ozarks Public Radio

At a marathon special City Council meeting where nearly two dozen residents testified, Joplin City Council voted to make masks mandatory in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Community members passionately argued for and against the mandate before Council voted to pass the ordinance 6-3 . 
The ordinance says people ages six and older within the city limits of Joplin must wear a face covering inside public facilities, businesses, public transportation vehicles and outside when social distancing is not possible in groups of 10 or more.  Exceptions are made for people in restaurants and bars "while they are dining or consuming drink."  People with qualifying medical and mental health conditions, as well as those with religious objections, are also exempt. 


Individuals who violate the face mask ordinance may be issued a warning or a citation, which carries a penalty of up to 50 dollars. 


Some business owners argued the ordinance was a case of gross government overreach. Others argued that masking would be a pro-business measure, since people will feel safer to shop, and it might save the economy from shutting down in case the coronavirus outbreak gets worse.


Mayor Ryan Stanley said he favored the updated ordinance because the enforcement is realistic, and the necessity of masking is clear.


"We've got people in our community who will not do it without being told to do it," Stanley said. "We are the reigional hub for this area, and we are surrounded by communities on fire with COVID."


The top administrator of Mercy Joplin Hospital, Jeremy Drinkwitz, told Council his hospital is seeing a "drastic increase" in COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 21 now fighting the disease in Mercy Joplin facilities.  Drinkwitz said he believes masks help protect others from getting the coronavirus, particularly when infected people are asymptomatic. 


The masking ordinance goes into effect Saturday, July 11 and is set to expire after August 17.


You can read the Joplin masking ordinance that was debated Wednesday night here. It was amended to include a "full face sheild" as one option for the face covering and to lessen the penalty to be capped at 50 dollars.

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