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Columbia mayor requests ordinance for mandatory public mask wearing

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The mayor of Columbia is pushing for a city ordinance requiring people to wear masks in public places.

Mayor Brian Treece posted on Twitter Friday that he asked City Manager John Glascock to draft an ordinance for the city council to consider. Treece called it a "simple public health initiative" to possibly slow the spread of COVID-19 as infections continue to rise.

Treece said he did not know when the ordinance would be ready or when a vote could take place on it.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Boone County have doubled in the month of June. The Columbia/Boone County Health Department reported 334 cases on Friday, up from the 150 cases the county had on June 1. The county's seven-day average of new daily cases has also grown to its highest point since the pandemic began, now averaging 11 new cases a day.

Treece said the growth rate concerned him, and hoped masks worn in public could help slow the spread of the virus. He pointed to the growing number of young people contracting the virus in the county, some who may not show any symptoms of having COVID-19.

"A lot of people, particularly in that 18 to 24 year old bracket, may not know that they're positive and may be spreading that throughout our community," Treece said.

Federal health officials say cloth masks reduce the number of droplets people leave behind in the air or on surfaces when they sneeze or talk. Scientists believe COVID-19 is spread through these droplets.

Treece said he does not want to see the county move backwards in terms of its re-opening plan. The county relaxed crowd size and building capacity limits last week.

"We can't continue on that path and still expect MU to come back, to have parents feel comfortable sending their kids to school," Treece said. "We have to take reasonable and responsible steps now to slow the spread of this virus."

Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman is hosting a listening session on Saturday about masks after the district released its return plan for the 2020-2021 school year earlier this week.

In a letter sent to families on Friday, Stiepleman said that the district received feedback from parents about masks.

"There is a feeling that strongly encouraging masks doesn’t go far enough," Stiepleman wrote. "The Superintendent should always pay attention to what the community is saying and make mid-course corrections, when appropriate."

The session, which will be held on Zoom, is scheduled for 2 p.m. The session comes ahead of the June 30 deadline for parents to notify the district if their child will attend school in-person or take courses online.

On Thursday, Boone County Commissioner Fred Parry said he would hate to see a mask mandate for the county, but says it might be the short-term solution the county needs.

"If people are not going to be compliant, if they're not going to be respectful of other people's health conditions, you know, maybe that's what we need," Parry said.

Coronavirus / Health / News / Top Stories

Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.

Katie Greathouse

Katie Greathouse is the assistant news director for ABC 17 News.

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