Masks will be required for the public and staff in all city buildings, following a resolution passed Monday night by the City Council of Webster City.
The resolution comes from the city’s COVID-19 committee. The committee asked that the measure be put into place until further notice. The committee also recommended that city buildings remain closed to the public and that the matter be revisited after the holidays.
“The council asked us to prepare for the time when we could open city hall and other city facilities,” said City Manager Jeff Sheridan. “We think it’s appropriate when that time comes, unless COVID is dramatically better, it would make sense to have the face masks required for anyone coming into city hall or other city buildings.”
Sheridan said the requirement would be started immediately. He said that currently very few people are coming into city hall as appointments are required.
Council Member Brian Miller clarified that Fuller Hall will remain open and that city hall would remain by appointment only.
“I really want the COVID committee to look around and see what other establishments, businesses and city halls are doing,” Miller said. “I want to be as safe as we can but still be as proactive as we can. I hope they look at all that stuff.”
City Clerk Karyl Bonjour said she has heard through her clerk contacts that many cities have reopened offices in June, only to shut down again.
“Some were just last week because the numbers (of cases) in their counties and cities are rising and their rate is going up,” she said. “Some have commented that they have reclosed their doors and are using other means to get business done.”
Miller said he wanted to be sure that the COVID committee was looking at all angles.
Shelby Kroona, Hamilton County Public Health administrator, agreed that it was important to look at all pieces of information around the pandemic.
“It changes frequently. The CDC is still recommending that all of the public wear masks when they are out and about,” she said. “I know it has become very political around that.”
What she has found in Hamilton County is that a lot of people do not know that they are ill and spreading the virus.
“We’re seeing a lot of in-house spread but also spread from events,” Kroona said. During the virus peak in June, she said it was very evident where the positive cases were coming from.
“We get anywhere from 5 to 15 positive cases every single day, and there’s nothing really linking them together. It is just everywhere,” she said. “When you’re in this wide community spread, face masks are important to slow the spread.”
Kroona said the masks will not stop the spread and that homemade face masks are only partially effective/
“But it is at least something as we try to protect our elderly and those who are most vulnerable,” she said.
As of Monday, Hamilton County has had 509 positive cases of COVID-19 with 456 individuals who have recovered. There have also been five deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to coronavirus.iowa.gov.
While Hamilton County is not considered a “red zone,” Kroona said that several of the surrounding counties are experiencing high positivity rates.
“So it’s all around us,” she said.
Miller said he was on board with all of the safety precautions, but that accessibility was a big concern for him.
“I want to be sure we’re looking at how we can safely open in the future,” Miller said.
View this article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal.
Last modified: November 4, 2020