CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The Cape Girardeau County mask mandate was extended by the five member Board of Trustees of the Cape Girardeau County Health Center on Tuesday, October 27.
During the meeting, trustees voted to extend the mask order, but will lift the mandate if one of the following three provisions is met:
- The viral lab test positivity for Cape Girardeau County positivity rate is below five percent for a two week period and the rolling 14 day case count of new COVID-19 cases is below 200 for a two week period. If these measures are met, the Face Covering Order would then be lowered from Required to Strongly Recommended. The order will revert back to Required when the positivity rate goes above 10 percent for a two week period and the rolling case count of new COVID-19 cases goes above 250 for a two week period.
- A COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available to the general public.
- A highly effective and relatively low cost therapeutic treatment for COVID-19 becomes widely available.
Face coverings must be worn by:
- All persons over the age of 9, including employees or visitors, present at any business or public space
- All persons over the age of 9 when outdoors in a public space when anyone other than members of their household or living unit will be within six feet
- All persons over the age of 9 attending a gathering of individuals who are not members of their household in any area, which will necessarily involve close contact or proximity to others when six feet of separation is not possible. This restriction does not apply to gatherings of individuals at personal residences.
Those not subject to this requirement include:
- Children under the age of 3
- Children between the ages of 3-9 are encouraged, but not required to wear a face covering
- Persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face covering
- Persons who have trouble breathing, or are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance
- Persons who are hearing impaired, or someone who is communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
- Persons who are at a place of business or public space who are consuming food or drink while adequately distanced from other patrons and staff
- Persons who are at a public pool while in the water
- Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service
- Persons playing a sport
- Persons exercising or using exercise equipment where participants are at least 6 feet apart
All businesses and other entities that provide a public space must post the requirement that face coverings are required for entry and must continuously be worn while present in the business or on the premises.
Businesses are authorized to deny entry to members of the public who refuse to wear face coverings.
A business shall neither require the individual to produce medical documentation verifying a medical condition or disability nor ask about the nature of a medical condition or disability.
All businesses must follow any additional requirements as determined by general and business-specific operating standards, guidelines and/or protocols published by OSHA, NIOSH, CDC, or other federal or state agencies
Failure to comply with a public health order designed to “prevent the entrance of infectious, contagious, communicable or dangerous diseases” into Cape Girardeau County is enforceable and punishable under Missouri law.
The Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney can seek emergency injunctive relief or other civil relief to enforce any provision of this order.
Noncompliance with this order may also disqualify businesses from future financial benefits.
In the past, the board said multiple factors were considered each time the order was extended, including the positivity rate of testing, increasing regional hospitalization rates, increasing active cases in Cape Girardeau County and the condition of the southeast Region.
The cloth face coverings recommended in the order are not surgical masks or respirators.
The mask mandate in Cape Girardeau County went into effect on July 13 and originally did not have an expiration date.
Ahead of the meeting the board accepted comments electronically on extending or ending the current countywide mask mandate.
The board said the responses they received were about even on keeping the order and to revoke it.
State Representative Barry Hovis attended the meeting.
Rep. Hovis shared with the board comments he has received from constituents. He also stated the Cape Girardeau is the only county outside of the metropolitan areas in Missouri requiring face coverings in public spaces.
In-person public comments were not accepted due to a heated discussion at the last board of trustees meeting in September.