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Supervisors pass county mask mandate

In a follow-up to a mask mandate passed by the Fort Dodge City Council in November, Webster County Supervisors approved the county Board of Health’s mask regulation Tuesday, making masks and face coverings in most public places mandatory for the rest of the county.

Supervisors passed the regulation with a 3-2 vote this morning, with Supervisors Mark Campbell and Keith Dencklau voting against it and Supervisors Niki Conrad, Nick Carlson and Bob Thode voting in favor.

The public health regulation, initially passed Dec. 3, was modified on Thursday by the Board of Health to suspend civil penalties of up to $1,000 that would have been imposed on businesses choosing to disregard enforcement of mask wearing in their establishments.

In its initial draft, the protocol opted for business fines instead of individual fines to ensure law enforcement would not be burdened by an influx of calls reporting unmasked individuals. In an attempt to compromise with dissatisfied business owners after the Dec. 3 passage of the regulation, the board voted to suspend the enforcement mechanism and evaluate its impact on public health by using pandemic metrics that show how quickly the coronavirus is spreading and how burdened hospitals are.

The Board of Health, in an attempt to not be “heavy handed” after vigorous opposition expressed by some business owners, said that civil penalties could be revisited and later imposed based on metrics like the positivity rate.

This breaking story will be updated.

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