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City commission to consider mask mandate

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
Ardmore City Hall in August 2019. The Ardmore City Commission on Thursday will consider a resolution to require face coverings while in public buildings in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Ardmore City Commission will hold a special meeting today to take a vote on a resolution that would require face coverings or masks to be worn at all indoor public spaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If passed, the resolution would apply to people over five years old and would remain in effect until the commission votes to rescind the resolution. It would not be in effect for any outdoor spaces.

City Manager JD Spohn said this resolution has come about due to the recent rise in the number of cases and information received from medical authorities and professionals in the area.

“In September I think we had around 54 cases, and now we’re at over 200,” Spohn said. “We need to recognize that this is an issue, and we need to do what we can to get it under control.”

Mayor Doug Pfau said he too has spoken with medical professionals and businesses about their concerns regarding the recent rise in cases, and the resolution is being considered to slow the spread.

“We were in such a good place for so long, and the virus really hadn’t got to us,” Pfau said. “I talked to an ER doctor the other day and he said where he was seeing one or two cases a week, now he’s seeing four or five a day. We’ve also talked to some of the larger businesses and they’re struggling because more and more of their employees are out because of COVID-related issues.”

Spohn said the commission is considering the mask measure in order to prevent shutdowns in the future. The masks will be required when going into public places. When going into restaurants, patrons would be required to wear their mask until seated at their table, at which point they can take them off.

He said individual businesses will be the ones who have the final say if they want to enforce the mandate or not. If a patron refuses to wear a mask and then refuses to leave, the police can then escort that person off the property.

“If you go into a business and you refuse to wear a mask, if they decide to let you come in that’s their decision,” Spohn said. “If they decide you need to leave and you refuse, then they can call the police because that’s trespassing.”

Mayor Pfau said he has already had several responses both positive and negative about the proposed mandate.

“I’ve received both negative and positive responses,” Pfau said Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve had several phone calls and emails today, and as far as the emails go, I’ve probably got more positive than negative comments from a lot of different people from all over town.”

Spohn said the potential mandate continues the efforts the city has been making since the beginning of the pandemic to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“From the beginning we’ve always said we’ll evaluate the situation continually,” Spohn said. “When our medical professionals are calling us and telling us the hospital is filling up and they’re having to consider delaying surgeries or elective surgeries because there are no beds and they have to make room for more COVID patients, that’s a problem. We want to do what we can to help.”

The meeting is scheduled for noon today in the Commission Chambers at Ardmore City Hall.