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Mayor stands behind local mask mandate

T-R FILE PHOTO Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer has announced Marshalltown’s mask mandate will continue.

Mayor Joel Greer took to social media to announce Marshalltown’s mask mandate will continue.

The post came a day after Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Friday she would lift many of Iowa’s mitigation efforts, including mask-wearing and social-distancing requirements. Mask requirements and gathering limits officially ended Sunday. It came to light Monday that Reynolds made the decision to end restrictions without first consulting state public health officials.

“I am shocked that the day before the Super Bowl — a potential superspreader — our state went back to allowing no masks,” Greer said. “We decide the day before the Super Bowl, when traditionally there are more parties, to go ahead and you don’t have to wear a mask and meet. We’re going to have another spike. Who can’t figure that out?”

Shortly after Greer announced keeping Marshalltown’s mask mandate in effect, he was joined by Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Cedar Rapids Mayor Bradley Hart and several more Iowa mayors.

Greer initially made a mayoral proclamation requiring COVID-19 mitigation measures on Nov. 30. He extended the mandate indefinitely on Jan. 15.

The mayor posted to Facebook:

“With Iowa’s death rate topping 5,000 and rising, Marshalltown’s death rate soon to hit 70, 6+ new diagnoses in the state capitol that has no mask mandate, Super Bowl parties about to happen tomorrow, kids and teachers being required to attend in person inside meaning another inevitable spike, 60 percent of the covid diagnoses happening in the last 3 months, my personal inability to get my first vaccine even though I turn 68 shortly, I am not inclined to lift the local mask mandate any time soon.

My best estimate is that 85 percent of the citizens and voters of Mtown have been urging me to keep the mandate. The other 15 percent must be studying social media, not science from reliable sources, or they simply don’t care to be considerate to those of us still concerned about our families and friends contacting a dangerously fatal virus. This post will, of course, draw those 15 percent out to post negative things about my position or me. Fine, somehow remove me from office or next November vote for a mayor that flunked science courses or believes that people most susceptible should die of this virus. The mandate stands.”

The reaction to his post reiterating his stance on keeping the mandate in effect was positive, according to Greer. However he said there were some who strongly opposed his message and the merits of the mandate. It received almost 300 comments as of Tuesday.

“I probably got a little more pointed about it this time,” he said. “It has reached a level of frustration for me, I will admit.”

Greer said the frustration evident in his post comes from the toll COVID-19 has taken on Iowans, especially the 68 people who have died with the virus in Marshall County.

“It’s a direct reaction to how can people not get it now? The people that believe in the QAnon theory that it’s a hoax,” he said. “People will say, ‘Well only 1 percent of people who get it die.’ Well over the last year now it’s the third largest killer in the U.S. Why would we not treat anything that becomes a major death threat as real?”

The mayor said he makes an effort to contact social media commenters who voice opposition to him by sending direct messages.

“I contact them privately to start a dialogue,” he said. “About every time I post, two or three people will nuke me on my mayor’s Facebook page.”

A week ago the Iowa Department of Public Health reported three cases of a new, more communicable strain of the coronavirus found in Iowa. It was found in two people in Johnson County. One of the people is an adult, 18-40 years old, and the other is a middle-age adult 41-60. Another case is in Bremer County in an adult.

IDPH reports 173,358 people have been given their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 95,642 have completed vaccination, receiving both doses required.

Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com

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