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Cape Girardeau Co. Health Board meeting ends amid public disruption

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:35 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 6:42 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The Cape Girardeau County Public Health Board of Trustees met on Tuesday, August 24.

The meeting started at noon and adjourned after multiple members of the public interrupted it.

The Cape Girardeau County Public Health Board of Trustees met at the Shawnee Park Center on...
The Cape Girardeau County Public Health Board of Trustees met at the Shawnee Park Center on Tuesday, August 24.(KFVS)

Items on the agenda included: 2021 Tax Rate for Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, 2021 budget review, building maintenance and guidelines review.

Trustees also heard reports on the following:

  • Financial transactions for the month of July
  • Services
  • Communicable disease
  • Environmental health

Chairperson John Freeze was not at the meeting.

During the meeting it was motioned and approved to discuss the communicable disease report separately.

Board Trustee Dr. Philip Taylor asked that the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center recognize recommendations from the Academy of Pediatrics and CDC when it comes to students and staff wearing masks in schools.

He also moved that the health center recognize CDC recommendations on wearing masks in public indoor spaces for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

As he talked about the public health center strongly recommending vaccination for everyone over the age of 12, the crowd interrupted him with loud protests.

Followed by more interruptions, the board motioned and approved the items 3-4.

Another member of the public then spoke up and voiced his dissent with any kind of mandate, as well as what he called “government overreach.”

Vice Chairperson Georganne Syler said they are willing and able to have a discussion, but it can’t be at the board meetings. She said the board meetings have business that needs to be taken care of.

She also clarified that the motion made and accepted at Tuesday’s meeting did not have a mask mandate involved with it.

“You say, ‘we will not comply,’ we’re not asking you to comply,” she said. “We’re simply saying that this board, three out of the four people here today, accept this as a statement.”

“...so those that were elected to this board have said that we believe there is truth and validity to it,” she continued.

Board Trustee and attorney Diane Howard also spoke to the crowd.

She explained that the current mandate that masks be worn in city buildings was mandated by the City of Cape Girardeau, not the county health department.

“If you have an issue with what the City of Cape Girardeau requires, please speak to the city council about that issue. If you have an issue about what the school district requires, they have also a duly-elected board...” Howard said.

She went on to say that the county health department has not had a mandate in effect for six months.

It was held at the Shawnee Park Center, which is a building run by the city.

Earlier this month, the city announced a policy requiring masks inside city buildings.

Many of those at the health board meeting were not wearing masks.

When we asked the city about this, we received a statement from a city spokesperson saying, in part:

“Some people choose not to mask for a variety of reasons, including protest. Since our facilities are public property, we try our best to balance individual freedoms and public health. In addition, we do not want to put our employees...in confrontational situations that have the potential to escalate...”

On Monday, August 23, the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center reported 74 new cases of COVID-19.

Also on Monday, Saint Francis Healthcare System gave an update on its hospital capacity.

They reported 44 total COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Of those, 42 were unvaccinated, 2 were partially vaccinated and zero were vaccinated.

Saint Francis said a total of 35 COVID-19 patients were in the COVID Care Unit, with 24 of those being “floor status” and 11 being “ICU status.”

When it came to ventilators, Saint Francis said they had 18 total COVID-19 patients on ventilators. Of those, 18 were unvaccinated and zero were vaccinated.

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