Mask mandate OK delayed

Board of Health working to take conflicts into consideration

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Megan Secor, drafter of a mask petition that helped mask mandates gain traction with the Fort Dodge City Council and Webster County Board of Health, stands in front of signs encouraging mask use at Webster County Public Health's office.

The Webster County Board of Supervisors will not yet be voting on a resolution to approve a mask mandate enforcement regulation that was passed by the Webster County Board of Health last week.

On Monday, the county announced that the Board of Health is taking another look at the regulation and will likely be making amendments before it is sent to the Board of Supervisors for final approval. The regulation was originally expected to be approved by the Board of Supervisors at its meeting today.

“We were made aware of some other entities that the guidance that they have from their governing bodies would make it difficult with what we’ve done with the regulation, so we feel we need to make some changes so it brings in those regulations that they’re needing to follow and not have this conflicting,” explained Linda Opheim, chair of the Webster County Board of Health.

Opheim did not specify which entities had conflicting mask-related guidance.

The Board of Health originally passed the regulation on Thursday with a 3-1 vote with county Supervisor Mark Campbell, who serves on the health board, dissenting. Members Luke Becker, Supervisor Nick Carlson and Dr. Kelli Wallace, medical director of Webster County Public Health, all voted for the measure.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Vocal mask mandate advocate Megan Secor, a local business owner, looks at new signs on Webster County Public Health's floor of the Northwest Bank building in downtown Fort Dodge.

The regulation gave teeth to the mask mandates issued by the state of Iowa and the Fort Dodge City Council by adding civil penalties to enforce the mandates.

As it was passed on Thursday, the regulation stipulated that all members of the public must wear a face mask in most public places, including outside, with some exceptions. Businesses that do not enforce the measure would be subject to a fine of up to $750 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

The Board of Health still plans to move forward with the mask mandate regulation once these amendments have been integrated.

“They’re working as fast as they can,” Opheim said. “We’re hoping to get this done quickly.”

Those with questions or comments about the mask regulation are asked to call 515-227-7155.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Webster County Public Health's office is adorned with signs around the perimeter of its downtown Fort Dodge building encouraging mask use to save lives as COVID-19 infections continue to rage unyieldingly in the county and state.

“As a board, we continue to request that people do all of the mitigation efforts that public health has been asking all along as far as wearing a mask, social distancing, not gathering, stay home and follow the guidance that they’ve already been given,” Opheim said.


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