Washington City Council Chambers

Masks were once again a topic of discussion at the Washington City Council meeting Monday, Aug. 3.

Mark Skornia, emergency management director, reported the research he had done on mask mandates at Councilman Greg Skornia’s request. His report comes as Franklin County’s COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the last month to 544, and the city considers a possible mask mandate.

Mark Skornia said the mask study with the most “traction” was from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which was later picked up by the CBS Network. He said the study quoted sources from the National Governor’s Association and the New York Times.

“It compares 16 states that recommend but do not require masks, and the 11 states that mandate wearing masks in public,” Mark Skornia said. “The states that do not require masks saw an 84 percent increase in (COVID-19) cases, and the 11 states that do mandate masks saw cases fall about 25 percent.”

He added that there were slight variations in the states that required masks, reporting that some states only require certain business employees and patrons to wear them. Those particular states saw about a 12 percent decrease in COVID-19 cases, he said.

Mark Skornia said he looked at other studies as well, including one done by the University of Iowa that found a 2 percent decrease in virus cases over a three-week span when masks were worn. “The number of cases went down,” he said. “It was not like what you see now where it (number of cases) goes up and down.”

Mark Skornia also gave an overview of the  cities and counties in Missouri that have mask mandates. They are Branson, Columbia, Joplin, Kansas City, North Kansas City, Springfield, St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, and Clay and Jackson counties.

Councilman Mark Wessels said another thing to research is the exit criteria those cities and counties were using. “It’s important for people to know it’s not forever and this is how we will know.”

Mark Skornia said the mandates did not have an end date. He said a possible reason for this is the lack of regulations from Centers for Disease Control and other official agencies.

Mark Skornia said he would continue his research.

Mayor Sandy Lucy said she received a question and suggestion from a resident, about issuing a mask resolution in lieu of a mask ordinance.

“I received the phone call last week and was asked why we have not considered this,” Lucy said. “I thought I would throw it out there for discussion.”

The resolution would not be enforceable by law and there would be no fines or penalties for not abiding by the resolution. City attorney Mark Piontek explained the resolution would represent the opinion of the council, whereas the ordinance would be law.

Councilman Steve Sullentrup said the suggestion was a good idea because it gives businesses and people the opportunity to do what they wish.

City Administrator Darren Lamb said the idea of a resolution could be looked at more in depth.

The council is still scheduled to hold a special meeting Wednesday, Aug. 19, to discuss a potential ordinance requiring masks to be worn in public areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Lamb said it is still “up in the air” what part the discussed resolution will play in that special meeting.