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Maumelle adopts mask resolution

by Stephen Simpson | July 7, 2020 at 12:30 p.m.
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes covid-19.

The city of Maumelle adopted a resolution Monday night that “strongly encourages” the use of masks, but stopped short of a mandate due to concerns voiced by council members.

The City Council voted unanimously to adopt a model resolution given to them by the Arkansas Municipal League that states Maumelle requires the usage of facial coverings according to Arkansas Department of Health guidance in an effort to curb the spread of covid-19.

Mayor Caleb Norris said the resolution allows law enforcement to act in a support capacity to local businesses that wish to enforce the use of masks in their establishments.

City Attorney Melissa Krebs said the police previously could arrest someone for criminal trespass if they didn’t follow the rules.

The resolution also includes the option not to wear a mask if it presents a health risk.

“I recommend and encourage people who can’t social distance to wear a mask unless you have a health condition that prevents that,” Norris said.

A public comment was read at the meeting that asked City Council members to pass a mandate that requires masks outside of homes due to public health risks.

City Council member John Vaprezsan said he wasn’t sure if he was in favor of a mandate, but would be in favor of a resolution that encouraged people to wear masks. He said based on conversations he had with the Maumelle Police Department the city didn’t have enough officers to enforce a mandate.

“It’s unenforceable, a dog without teeth,” he said.

Council member Ken Saunders said people don’t fully understand the situation. He said people like him die from wearing face masks.

“I had to wear a face mask when I went to the oncologist and my blood oxygen levels were well below 80 percent,” he said. “There are people dying from this. Some people are concerned that more people are dying from lack of oxygen that have pre-existing conditions that are dying from the virus. So we want to think twice before we force people to wear a mask.”

Saunders said there is some question over masks’ effectiveness.

“Now politically they are always effective, but in reality they may or may not be,” Saunders said. “I would strongly object to our city passing some kind of ordinance that would require a face mask. I have no problem with resolutions encouraging it, but there are a lot of people like me that are respiratory challenged that have problems with this.”

CORRECTION: A previous headline for this article misidentified the resolution adopted.

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