Local leaders ask state for more local control in handling pandemic

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 10:26 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - On Wednesday, the Linn County Board of Health, along with the county’s Board of Supervisors, approved a proclamation asking Gov. Kim Reynolds for local control on mask mandates and how to enforce them.

Some cities, like Mount Vernon, have already approved a mandate for people to wear a mask while in public areas and when social distancing isn’t an option.

“I think the masks are a great idea; it’s better for everyone,” Alice Schumacher, co-owner of Alice’s Wonderland in downtown Mount Vernon, said.

Not being able to enforce the city code was one reason Alice and her husband Matt wanted a statewide mandate.

“If there’s confusion between what’s going on in this town versus what’s going on in other towns, then people don’t know how to plan to adjust to react,” said John Schumacher, co-owner of Alice’s Wonderland, said.

That’s the case in Iowa, which is why the Linn County Board of Health, Linn County Supervisors, and several mayors signed a proclamation calling on Reynolds for the ability to simplify things on a local scale.

“Let’s not make this political, if it is,” Matt Melvin, mayor of Prairieburg, said. “Let’s leave it up to the city. Again, she’s not in every city, every community. She doesn’t know what’s best for one and not for another.”

Melvin, one of the signatories of the proclamation, would also like to see a statewide mask mandate. If lieu of that, he said giving local control will allow him and the council to decide what’s best for the people of his town.

“Prairieberg is a very small community,” Melvin said. “Right now, we are not required masks because we have a small population, but we’re not Cedar Rapids, we’re not Marion, which have a greater population.”

Melvin said he wouldn’t yet implement a mask mandate in the town of 178 if the Governor agreed with the proclamation, but would do so if a localized outbreak were to happen.

For the Schumachers, the masks are what they hoped would let them get back to business a little quicker.

“I would like people just to think about other people,” Alice said. “Just stop focusing on yourself. There’s a whole world of people out there and we all need each other.”

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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