Muscatine community reacts to mayor’s face covering mandate

Published: Jul. 5, 2020 at 11:07 PM CDT
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MUSCATINE, Iowa (KWQC) - Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson announced a citywide face-covering mandate Sunday afternoon at a press conference. The proclamation will go into effect at 6 a.m. on Monday, July 6. The mandate would require everyone in the city to wear a face-covering when they can’t social distance to prevent an increase of COVID-19 cases.

Not all of the city’s residents agreed with the mandate. Dozens came out and protested against the proclamation at Muscatine’s City Hall. The crowd booed and yelled as the mayor, Dr. Dustaff Persaud of Mercy Hospital and Director of Muscatine County Public Health, Christy Roby Williams. The disruptions eventually prematurely ended the announcement.

Ashley O’Brien, a Muscatine native, said most of her family has asthma.

“I’m not okay with sending my kids to school with masks on for 8 hours a day,” she said.

O’Brien also said she asked the mayor if she was going to require the masks in schools.

“She says she’ll discuss that at a later date. Well at a later date I won’t have time to home-school my kids or to have the regulations done that I need to get in place to home-school my kids I need to know now,” she said.

Randy Van Zee said he doesn't agree with the decision.

“I’m not worried about it. If I get sick so be it. That’s my choice. Not the mayor’s choice, not the governor’s choice. Not some politician in Washington DC. It’s my choice,” he said, “Freedom is the most important thing to me that I have. Obviously, our health is important as well. It’s my decision and my health to treat it the way I want to.”

Allison Ritchie said she came out to learn more about the mayor's decision.

“I haven’t read the four-page proclamation yet. I couldn’t hear over the chants going on. So I’d like to read further information about it and what this actually does to help support protecting workers in our community as well [as] different workplaces,” she said, “I hope that this can help prevent any future spread and any other people from getting sick with this and so that’s what I came down for to listen to her.”

Michelle Servadio Elias said this will help protect workers and preserve their economy.

“This is a preventative measure. This isn’t meant to deprive anybody’s freedom. This is to help keep our economy going and keep people safe. It’s that simple and I support the mayor 100% in what she’s doing,” she said, ‘I just think we need to try to find that way where we can all work together to keep our community safe and help prevent that risk of spread of infection.”

The mayor said she was expecting the push back and is defending her decision.

“Public health and safety guidelines are not determined by their vote. They’re by determined professional experts and industry standards,” she said. “I believe it’s my duty to help protect each citizen of the city of Muscatine as well as our economy as a whole and according to the experts that I have to rely on, they’re telling me the best way to make that happen is to have people wearing masks.”

Mayor Broderson also said the recommendations to wear masks and social distance hasn’t been followed as closely as it could have.

“Hopefully this will encourage them to do a better job so we can lessen that spread and keep Muscatine’s community vibrant and moving forward,” she said.

The mandate will continue for six months unless it is terminated or extended in writing by the mayor. She says guidance from the health community will guide that decision.

For more information from the Centers for Disease Control about the effectiveness of face coverings click here.

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