CEDAR RAPIDS — Amid soaring COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the Linn County supervisors on Wednesday unanimously approved a face-covering mandate for Linn County, which includes all the cities within the county.
The mandate goes into effect Thursday.
The regulation requires people living in or visiting Linn County to wear a face covering when they are in public and unable to stay 6 feet away from other people.
The regulation also requires people wear face coverings while indoors in any public setting, including grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, retail stores and schools.
Those violating the mandate are subject to the minimum fine for a simple misdemeanor, or $65. Subsequent offenses would bring fines up to the maximum for a simple misdemeanor, or $625.
The mandate was recommended by the Linn County Board of Health.
The only exemptions to the mandate are for those traveling in a personal vehicle alone or with household members; people exercising when they are at least 6 feet from others; people eating or drinking while seated at a bar or food establishment; and those obtaining a service that requires the removal of a mask, such as dental appointments.
Supervisor Brent Oleson, who has in the past been reluctant to support a mask mandate, said he feels it must be done now because of people actively not wearing masks.
“It now comes in the proper channel and now I will support the Board of Health’s resolution,” Oleson said. “It’s been sad to listen to the ongoing statement of trusting Iowans to do the right thing. A vocal minority refused and made this something political, and it’s sad, ...
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“If it’s not done voluntarily, then it must be done with a directive. I don’t like government mandates, but it seems it must be done.”
Supervisor Stacey Walker said the requirements are no different “from what’s coming out of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and what is documented in Gov. Reynolds’ mask mandate that came out a couple days ago.”
“This is not a sacrifice, not a crucifixion, … it’s not a slippery slope,” Walker said. “All of that is a distraction. and the longer those cliches are used to justify misbehavior, the longer we will be in this situation.”
Supervisor Ben Rogers said his mind was made up before Wednesday’s vote.
“We’ve lived with this in our community and worldwide for nine months,” Rogers said. “This has been a lived experience and not something we generally do lightly, passing a mandate.”
Rogers told The Gazette on Monday the county modeled the regulation process on one used by Johnson County supervisors earlier this year.
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