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Mayor to follow lead on lifting mask mandate

It has been more than three months since Mayor Joel Greer made a mayoral proclamation requiring COVID-19 mitigation efforts in Marshalltown.

The proclamation, which urges social distancing and wearing masks in public was extended without an expiration date in January. Greer said he is still unsure when he will feel comfortable lifting it but he has been encouraged by slowing virus activity in Marshall County.

“We’ve been parked at 73 deaths for weeks now. That’s a really good sign,” he said. “I’m not hearing that we’re overflowing with COVID patients at our local hospitals.”

While the proclamation has been in effect, Greer has found most of the public response to be positive. Yet a year after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic a global health emergency, Greer has noticed some growing frustration over keeping mitigation efforts in place.

“My sense has been 85 percent of people were in favor of the mask mandate and a vocal 15 percent were not,” he said. “That has probably shifted a little bit now. People are getting their second shots and thinking they’re good to go out into the world; why should they worry about anybody else. They still may be carriers. It’s still the right thing to do to be a good example for younger people.”

The 68-year-old Mayor is still waiting to be vaccinated and realizes it will be months before a majority of people have received both doses. About 11 percent of Iowans have been completely vaccinated. In Marshall County 3,368 vaccine series have been completed.

Greer is concerned with how many people may not be willing to take the vaccine.

“I’ve read in Iowa and locally a fairly good percentage of health care workers are not availing themselves to the vaccine,” he said. “That leaves maybe 40 percent of people who are carriers to still spread the virus around. If we want to get the restaurants and businesses and bars open full tilt without any CDC problems — it’s going to take a while.”

Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Iowa City are among other cities with similar proclamations to Marshalltown. The mayor plans to wait until after these cities lift their COVID-19 efforts before doing the same.

Greer said he is also watching the Centers for Disease Control for information that would support ending his proclamation.

“If it looks like other major cities are pulling back on mandates and we don’t have any more deaths here and the hospital doesn’t get any more full I’d probably find myself either relaxing it somewhat or just withdrawing it,” Greer said. “I don’t intend to lead those ahead of those cities.”

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