Community debates if face masks should be mandatory |

Community debates if face masks should be mandatory

Jaclyn Harold
Created: June 24, 2020 06:59 PM

(ABC 6 News) - More states have joined the list requiring residents to wear face masks in public, but Minnesota is still leaving the option open for voluntary compliance.
"I don't think that just because you don't like it you should be able to potentially put others at risk because of that," said Zach Butler, a Rochester resident who said he chooses to wear a mask to help protect others.

When COVID-19 hit Minnesota back in March, like most states, it shut down, but the virus affected every state differently. Where some states immediately started requiring face coverings, Minnesota just recommended that people ware them out.

"There just hasn't been kind of a universal agreement that masking is necessary," said Mayor Kim Norton.

Norton said city council, Olmsted County Public health, and Mayo Clinic continue to communicate the best recommendations for the safety of the community, and so far, a need to mandate masks have not been agreed on.

"The idea here is if we all wear masks, we all prevent each other from getting it. But it really takes a community-wide effort," said Graham Briggs, the Director of Olmsted County Public Health.

Mayo clinic also released a statement encouraging the community to wear masks, and for businesses to join the Rochester Ready initiative. The statement came from the Senior Communications Specialist Tia Ford.

"Face masks combined with other preventive measures such as good hand hygiene and social distancing are important to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Mayo Clinic requires masks for our staff, patients, and visitors while on campus. We continue to urge people to take these important steps to slow the spread and are excited to partner with the community on Rochester Ready to help ensure a safe, welcoming experience and to instill confidence in residents, visitors, and patients." 
-Mayo Clinic

Mayor Norton said the community did a good job at complying with the Stay-at-home order, but she's starting to see that many people are not doing as well with the masks.

Both Norton and Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm said though a mandated mask requirement is not the route they're choosing to take right now, the decision could change later on if cases spike and it best serves the community.

"I don't think that it's gotten to the point where it's something that we're considering right now but our cases are going up, they seem to be spiking kind around us so it's something that we can certainly look at, we have looked at, but as I said at this point we decided not to go that route," said Stiehm.

For more updates on COVID-19, you can visit the Minnesota Department of Health or Olmsted County Public Health. Mayor Norton said she also sends out constant reminders of the current safety recommendations.

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