Adair County, Kirksville enact mask mandates

The Adair County Health Department Board unanimously voted Nov. 23 to implement a county mask mandate to combat COVID-19. The Kirksville City Council also unanimously passed a city-wide mask mandate in its Nov. 24 meeting. Both mandates go into effect at midnight Nov. 25.

The county mandate will stay in effect until further notice.

As of Tuesday, Nov. 24, Adair County has 121 active cases of COVID-19 and a total of 1,152 cases to date. The county has seen a spike in recent weeks and has reported 591 cases since Oct. 26. 

The Adair County mandate requires all people within county lines to wear masks in any public accommodation or public indoor space, unless they can “absolutely maintain a distance of six feet.” Masks are not required for individuals alone in an enclosed office, or by a speaker to a group, as long as the speaker can guarantee they can maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet during the presentation. Face coverings can be removed in restaurants and bars when actively eating or drinking, but must be worn at all times otherwise. 

“The White House Coronavirus Task Force, Missouri’s governor and the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization have all stated that everyone needs to wear a mask at all times outside of their home to slow the rapid transmission of COVID-19,” Jim LeBaron, administrator of the Adair County Health Department, wrote in a press release. “If everyone would comply, there would be no need for this measure. But since so many people in Adair County simply will not wear one to protect others and themselves, and since our case numbers are far too high, we needed to put a mandate into effect. Our healthcare providers, emergency workers and our schools will not be able to sustain the numbers we’re seeing now.”

The City of Kirksville issued a release Nov. 20 indicating that the Kirksville City Councilmembers had been polled on their support for a mask mandate. The council split in its support; Councilmembers Burden, Jessica Parks, and Rick Steele all expressed support for a mask mandate, and Councilmembers Philip Biston and Chuck Long said they would support a mask mandate when the Health Department recommends one.

Burden asked the question in preparation for a later meeting with other elected officials and the Adair County Health Department. According to the release, the discussion among the councilmembers was presented to the Health Department Board. 

In Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Mari Macomber said the city received 58 emails regarding a mask mandate, with 54 of them expressing support for the measure. Truman State University Student Government also passed a resolution in support of a mask mandate and sent it to the Kirksville City Council.