Several local governments reinstating mask mandates

Linn County reinstates mask mandate inside county facilities
Linn County reinstates mask mandate inside county facilities
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 6:03 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Linn County Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 this morning to mandate masks in county facilities.

This step is about the only one they can take with Gov. Kim Reynolds banning school districts, counties, and cities in Iowa from enforcing masks mandates everywhere else. The requirement will go into effect Monday.

“Folks are becoming ill, and COVID is surging again,” Stacey Walker, one of the county’s supervisors, said. “This is one tool in our toolbox that’s been left to us after the state legislature is taking action to strip local control.”

Walker said he does not know how long the local mandate will last.

“That’s really up to folks in the community,” Walker said. “If folks are getting their vaccine and they’re masking up and practicing good health guidance, we’ll get out of this thing.”

Supervisor Louie Zumbach was the lone vote against the mandate.

“I think the majority of my constituents probably believe in I’m going to call itself control and taking care of themselves,” Zumbach said. “Do I think they’re going to stand outside and protest? No.”

Linn County is the latest to require masks in public buildings, regardless of their vaccination status. Iowa City made that decision Thursday, and Cedar Rapids announced people will need to wear masks in city buildings earlier this week.

Several groups have been pushing for Reynolds to rescind her mask mandate ban. The “Safe at School” sit-in will happen at the state capitol on Wednesday. They are a group of parents wanting a mask mandate.

“I believe our state needs to protect Iowans, and we need to do it now,” Julie Russel Steuart, with Disability Caucus of Iowa Democratic Party, said. “Because we can see what is coming: A surge.”

In a statement sent to KCRG-TV9, Reynolds said “The vaccine remains our strongest tool to combat COVID-19, which is why we are going to continue to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. I am proud that we recently put new laws in place that will protect Iowans against unnecessary government mandates in our schools and local governments. As I have throughout this pandemic, I trust Iowans to do the right thing and make the decisions about what’s best for themselves and their family.”

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