Mask discussion engages the public at McPherson City Commission meeting

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By Jessie Wagoner

 

McPHERSON—One surefire way to draw a crowd to the city commission meetings is putting a discussion regarding a mask ordinance on the agenda. Several community members attended the meeting in person Monday, and a large group tuned in via Facebook live ,offering comments both for and against a mask ordinance.

Commissioners advised they have also received upwards of 50 emails from concerned community members and countless phone calls. Masks are one topic the public is ready to weigh in on.

Mayor Tom Brown explained at the meeting the commission is concerned about public health but also concerned about the economy. Wearing masks does help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and it does help community members feel safer about frequenting local businesses.

While the county currently has 14 active cases of COVID-19, there are a large number of community members quarantined. If someone has had contact with a known positive case, they are required to quarantine for 14 days. As more people are exposed and quarantined, it can lead to businesses have to shut down if the majority of their employees are unable to work. The impact on local economy is a concern for commissioners.

One commenter advised during an uncertain time when things feel out of control there are two things she feels in control of, the first being where she goes and the second being how she spends her discretionary income. After visiting a local restaurant where employees were not wearing masks, she has made the decision not to spend money at businesses that do not require people to wear masks.

Several commenters brought up concerns about how masks impact individuals with disabilities, advising they can make people feel anxious, raising their blood pressure and causing shortness of breath. Commissioners advised any ordinance would include exceptions for individuals with disabilities or medical conditions.

Commissioners listened to comments and advised they needed additional time to read the comments on Facebook and review all of the emails they received during the meeting. They encouraged the public to wear a mask when social distancing could not be followed and to continue good hand hygiene.

In other business the commission:

  • approved repairs to fire department equipment.
  • approved hiring a paid call firefighter.
  • received an update on public works projects.