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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
At the recommendation of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and with the full support of health care partners in the region, City Council at its Dec. 14 meeting unanimously voted to extend the face covering, occupancy restrictions and social distancing requirements in the city limits of Springfield until April 9.
The ordinance, which comprises Phase 3C of the City’s Road to Recovery Plan, has the same requirements as the previous version, which was passed in October, but includes an exemption for baptisms. The new ordinance also provides additional language about enforcement and expectations of businesses and entities, and is effective immediately.
Springfield-Greene County has had more than 17,000 cases of COVID-19 and 247 deaths. For the most updated numbers and additional resources and guidance for specific groups, visit the Health Department’s website at health.springfieldmo.gov/coronavirus.
Prevention includes not only wearing a face covering while in public spaces, but maintaining a 6-foot distance from others and frequent hand washing.
Under the ordinance, everyone over the age of 11 is required to wear a face covering when in public spaces in the city limits of Springfield. Exemptions are made for those with health or breathing conditions that prohibits wearing a face covering, who are hearing impaired and people communicating with individuals who are hearing impaired.
Other exemptions include:
“The Springfield-Greene County Health Department takes an evidence-based approach to protect and promote the health of our community. Evidence continues to underline the effectiveness of wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and as such, is the recommendation of this department,” said Director of Public Health Clay Goddard.
Masks are primarily intended to reduce the spread of virus-laden droplets, which is especially relevant for asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infected wearers who feel well and may be unaware of their infectiousness to others, and who are estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions. Masks also help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer. The community benefit of masking for virus control is due to the combination of these effects; individual prevention benefit increases with increasing numbers of people using masks consistently and correctly. Additional social distancing measures help reduce the changes of virus transmission, as it thrives in congregant settings and increases likelihood through density and intensity of physical contact.
Dec. 8, hospital leaders from CoxHealth and Mercy told City Council they were unable to take referrals from other hospitals 60% of the time over the past two weeks due, in part, to an influx of COVID-19 patients.
Hospital leaders have, for weeks, warned about the impacts of exponential disease spread in the community. There have been record deaths in recent days, with Greene County reporting 51 fatalities in the first eight days of December. That's more than the entire months of September and November. With hospitalizations lagging two to three weeks after new infections, health officials are bracing for the impact of gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday.
A person who fails to wear a face covering when it is required shall be considered guilty of a violation of a municipal ordinance, which can result in a $100 fine. A person who owns, manages or otherwise controls a place at which face coverings and social distancing are required who fails to comply or require compliance from patrons or customers can also face a $100 fine and suspension or revocation of any permit or license issued to the person for the premises on which the violation occurred. Each day on which violations occur is considered a separate and distinct violation. However, if the business or entity requires compliance and the patron or customer refuses to wear a face covering, the owner or manager is not considered in violation of the ordinance.
“We have taken an educational approach first, so it is safe to say that the community is fully aware of the requirements. It is time to step up efforts and send a clear message that those not in compliance will be ticketed,” City Manager Jason Gage said. "We are entering into the most deadly phase of the pandemic, and ensuring masking compliance is the least we can do to preserve our hospital capacity and to protect our older friends and family members and those with medical conditions."
Violations can be reported by calling 911.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified certain populations at greater risk for severe health outcomes from COVID-19: older adults and individuals with conditions that affect the heart, lungs, kidneys or immune system, including but not limited to cancer, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, obesity, serious heart conditions and diabetes.
Other populations that may be at higher risk for severe symptoms include people who smoke, have asthma, are pregnant or have high blood pressure.
“COVID-19 is taking from us loved ones who had years ahead of them. Having an underlying health condition should not be interpreted as an individual being sick, feeble or infirm,” Goddard said. “Many of us live robust lives every day with the underlying health conditions that can make us more at risk to severe complications from this disease. We owe it to each other to faithfully practice watching our distance, wearing our masks and washing our hands.”
After hearing from hundreds of speakers and reading tens of thousands of written and transcribed comments, City Council first passed an ordinance in July 2020 requiring face coverings and social distancing in public spaces and setting an occupancy limit on special events on public property. In October, the council extended the requirements through Jan. 9.
For more information about the ordinance, visit springfieldmo.gov/coronavirusresponse. Media are asked to contact Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement Cora Scott at 417-380-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.