COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks as protection against coronavirus Wednesday in a public health advisory.
The department fell short of crafting new orders to force virus mitigation measures. In addition to masks, the department is also recommending practices such as frequent hand washing and social distancing around unvaccinated individuals.
Some Columbia residents say this is a welcome development. Kelley Evans said she has continued to wear a mask throughout the pandemic.
Evans works at Wal-Mart and has asthma. She said she has also lost multiple family members to COVID-19 and wanted to remind other Columbia residents that the pandemic has not ended.
But Jack Lewis believes a new mask mandate would be a tough sell to many of those in the city that have enjoyed not wearing a mask. Columbia and Boone County allowed their mask mandates and other health orders to expire this spring after being in place for several months.
Lewis said he would worry about the ramifications this could have on the economy if more businesses decided to require masks.
The health department's guidance came after Boone County logged more than 100 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday -- the first time the county has seen triple-digit cases in one day since the winter surge. The number of COVID-19 patients in Boone County hospitals also jumped 40% between Friday and Tuesday, going from 50 to 70.
Most of those patients are from outside Boone County, with the state has a whole among the leaders in new coronavirus cases. The more contagious delta variant now makes up more than 73% of new cases in Missouri, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Constance Parker, owner of Green Meadows Hair Salon, has kept mask requirements for customers throughout the pandemic and says for her, it was a no-brainer. Parker said mask requirements were kept in place specifically due to the type of industry her employees work in, which leaves them unable to socially distance from customers while doing their hair.
Customers have had varying reactions to the continued mask mandate at Green Meadows. However, many are appreciative of the extra efforts taken.
Moving forward, Parker said she thinks whether masks should be required depends on what service a business provides.