116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
In July, Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague issued a citywide mask mandate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In September, Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart followed suit with his own emergency proclamation requiring the use of masks in public.
Both orders contained exemptions and carried potential fines for non-compliance.
What's happened since
Police in both Iowa City and Cedar Rapids have yet to issue a single citation related to the communities' mask mandates.
'I think folks just really want to do the right thing,” Cedar Rapids Police Capt. Cody Estling said.
The Iowa City Police Department has had calls for service related to mask use, but the department has sought to gain compliance through education rather than punitive measures, Capt. Denise Brotherton said.
'We've continued and will continue to take an educational approach,” she said. 'The whole goal is to get as much compliance as you can.”
Brotherton said police are not actively stopping people in public who are not wearing masks and only respond to complaints. Many of those complaints were unfounded, Brotherton said.
'Especially in the beginning,” she said. 'Now we don't receive them as much.”
Brotherton said there also are valid reasons why someone might not have a mask on, citing age or medical exemptions. Sometimes, police encounter someone not wearing a mask who is in an 'obvious state of crisis,” Brotherton said.
Estling said Cedar Rapids officers also have responded to some complaints and taken an approach similar to Iowa City's.
'We handle it like we would any other complaint,” he said. 'We just go in with an open mind.”
Sam Jarvis, community health manager at Johnson County Public Health, said leaders have emphasized from the beginning of the mask mandates that it's about educating and not penalizing people. He's pleased to see that approach has worked.
'We're very fortunate to live in an area that recognizes and understands the importance to protect their community,” he said. 'Lower transmission means it's safer for those who are at risk, which means those with underlying conditions or older adults, which include our nursing home friends. It also means safer to be in schools and safer to go about life during a pandemic. We're grateful for our community playing a huge role in stopping the pandemic.”
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