bransonglobe.com STATE LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — As coronavirus cases increase across Missouri, city officials are wrestling with how to slow that rise when many residents are resistant to more government restrictions. In southwest Missouri, where some counties have become hot spots for the virus since Gov. Mike Parson allowed the state to reopen for business on June 16, the discussion has focused on whether to require citizens to wear face masks. The state health department reported 19,421 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday, an increase of 553 cases from Wednesday, and a 9.5% increase in the last seven days. Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams said 13,000 test results were reported to the state in one batch for June 21 through June 24, so reported test results don’t represent a daily increase. The Joplin City Council Wednesday voted 5-4 to reject an ordinance that would have required residents to wear masks if they were within 6 feet of someone else in public. The Springfield City Council this week discussed requiring masks, but no official action was taken. Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley voted against the proposal but said he had mixed feelings and that he believed people should wear masks. The deciding factor for him was the difficulty of enforcing the ordinance, which placed the onus on people, not businesses, to report violators. “I envisioned a Saturday where police were getting 200 calls from people all around town reporting someone not wearing a mask,” he said. “How do you divide that work and decide what a true emergency is?” The ordinance was first proposed last week and drew intense interest, with hundreds of emails and phone calls to city officials and a four-hour meeting before the vote. June 28 - 30, 2020 • 11 Cities consider requiring face masks as virus cases surge Joplin, a city of about 50,000 people, straddles the Newton/ Jasper county line. Stanley said the two counties had confirmed 60 cases on June 3, but that total increased to 814 by Wednesday. “This is definitely a community in crisis,” Stanley said. “It’s very, very concerning where we are. We do not like being a hot spot.” Williams said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff will be in Joplin Thursday and Friday to help track and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Mike Parson said it is up to local officials to decide whether to require face masks, and if citizens didn’t like the SEE FACE MASKS, PAGE 13

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