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Mask Mission

One FD woman starts petition in her quest to get others to join the fight against COVID-19

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Megan Secor, of Fort Dodge, was concerned when the number of cases of COVID-19 in Webster County increased by more than 100 in less than 24 hours, so she created a Change.org petition to ask local officials to implement a mask mandate to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

When Webster County saw an increase of 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day on Friday, Megan Secor was fed up.

“Going over 100 in 24 hours was definitely my breaking point,” she said.

Secor was tired of seeing Webster County’s COVID-19 numbers rise at such an alarming rate, tired of seeing family and friends have to quarantine because of possible exposure, and tired of hearing about community members losing loved ones to the viral illness.

So she decided to do something.

Secor, of Fort Dodge, created a petition on Change.org addressed to both the Fort Dodge City Council and the Webster County Board of Supervisors, asking that the two governmental bodies put in place a mask mandate, requiring everyone in the county to wear a mask while out in public in order to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Megan Secor, of Fort Dodge, started a Change.org petition to ask the Webster County Supervisors and the Fort Dodge City Council to implement a mask mandate in the area to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As of Tuesday evening, the petition had more than 600 signatures.

“I know the mask isn’t 100% (effective) and it’s not a vaccine, but it would definitely help our numbers go down,” she said. “It just seems like a common sense thing.”

Since starting the petition five days ago, Secor has garnered more than 600 signatures. The petition can be found at: www.change.org/p/a-mask-mandate-in-fort-dodge-iowa.

On Monday night, the Fort Dodge City Council read a proclamation strongly encouraging — but not mandating — the use of masks in public.

Mayor Matt Bemrich told The Messenger on Tuesday that he has had conversations with the city’s legal counsel and law enforcement officials and he has concerns over the constitutionality of a mask mandate passed by the city government.

He noted that school districts already have the latitude to make decisions mandating students and staff wear masks, and private employers and stores and restaurants have the right to require masks of patrons and employees.

“The people that choose not to wear masks — although I don’t think it is right that they are choosing not to wear masks — I don’t believe local government has the authority to force them to wear a mask,” the mayor said.

Although Bemrich questions the city government’s authority to mandate mask use, several communities and counties in Iowa have implemented a mask mandate, including nearby Wright County.

On Tuesday, the Wright County Board of Health approved new emergency measures, including requiring masks to be worn in all public indoor spaces in the county. Secor said she hopes this move by a neighbor of Webster County will help motivate local leaders to make similar mandates.

“I know that this has been politicized, but we can all recognize that this is a public health emergency — we’re losing community members, we’re losing family members, we’re losing the health of our community because people can’t do something as common sense as put on a mask,” she said.

Secor is still gathering signatures on her petition, but she did speak at the Webster County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday morning, where she discovered her next step will be presenting the petition to the Webster County Board of Health at its next meeting.

“Their next meeting isn’t scheduled until next month, so we have to hope they get a board meeting together soon because this is a public health emergency,” she said.

Also on Tuesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation requiring more mask use in public, but only for gatherings with more than 25 people indoors or 100 people outdoors. Secor doesn’t think this is enough.

“Up until this point, Kim Reynolds has been saying to us she trusts Iowans to do the right thing, but that’s been since March and so far our numbers have not gone down,” she said. “So I think we’re past the point of hoping that Iowans will do the right thing. I think when you put a mandate in place, that really shows people how big of a deal it is, how serious it is that the county is willing to get behind it.”

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