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Mayor Joel Greer has extended the citywide mask mandate he originally issued in November.

The mandate was set to expire Friday. It requires every person in Marshalltown to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose when in public indoor settings, using public transportation and outdoors if social distancing is not possible.

The Iowa Department of Public Health advises masks and face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The mayor extended the mandate with no expiration date.

“The records I’m seeing from IDPH say Iowa is still one of the most dangerous states and Marshall County is the 16th worst out of 99 counties,” Greer said. ““We have a population that is probably considerably more susceptible to getting it considering we have a pork plant, the Veterans Home and several nice nursing homes.”

He noted the city began censuring staff for violating the mask mandate but have only had to do so once.

The mask mandate has generated the largest number of phone calls and emails Greer has received on an issue since joining the city council about 10 years ago. The response has been mostly in favor of the mandate.

In a meeting with JBS on Friday, Greer said general manager Todd Carl credited the mask mandate with helping keep the plant a safe environment.

“They think it does help with the 2,400 people they employ,” Greer said. “JBS employees are having a much higher percentage sign up for the vaccine than even the city staff. Upwards of 60 percent.”

The mandate does have exemptions. Children under the age of 2, people on oxygen or ventilators and people momentarily showing their face for identification are not required to be masked.

Greer was initially unsure how many people would heed the mask mandate but he said it seems to have made a difference for many.

“It seems to me more people are wearing masks,” he said.

The county’s 14-day average rate of positivity is 7 percent. On Nov. 25, it was 18.1 percent. The county recorded four deaths related to COVID-19 that week.

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Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com

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