Springfield residents split on if masks should be encouraged

Tracy Wickham, left, and Denise See, who both work at United Senior Services, were wearing their masks as they took a walk around downtown Springfield Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Tracy Wickham, left, and Denise See, who both work at United Senior Services, were wearing their masks as they took a walk around downtown Springfield Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Springfield residents are split after city commissioners voted to approve a resolution that supports and encourages residents to wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is not a matter of just being appropriate and being courteous. This is a matter of life and death,” said Springfield Commissioner Dave Estrop during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

The resolution calls for the support and approval of the use of face coverings and six feet of social distancing for all members of the public in an effort to reduce and prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Springfield is experiencing a local surge of COVID-19 cases that threatens to strain local and regional healthcare systems, the resolution stated. Additional measures are deemed necessary in order to slow the outbreak.

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Opinions of those commenting on the Springfield News-Sun Facebook page were mixed.

Some residents said masks are not necessary.

"I won't and will not wear a mask," Miranda Stewart said.

"We are responsible to take care of ourselves, not government. We all know how… it has been drummed into us," Linda Heater said.

"Insane. Stop the panic," Tyler Banion said. "No way I take my business to Springfield moving forward."

Other residents were hopeful that the city would encourage face coverings.

"I wish they would… not near enough people are wearing them, particularly in the age groups currently spreading it," John T. Folden said.

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Face coverings are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a way to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and to help prevent those who may unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others.

Patty Boggs-Fulkerson, another resident said, "Unless you are looking for an excuse to not wear a mask, you KNOW it has zero to do with your rights being violated, it has zero to do with being politically correct, it has EVERYTHING to do with being conscious of the fact that there is a GLOBAL PANDEMIC raging through this country and that the best, most effective weapons available to us are wearing a mask, social distancing, hand washing, and staying home unless you HAVE to go out."

City officials stated by passing the resolution it shows that the City of Springfield affirms and fully supports safety measures used to prevent the spread of the virus that are highlighted by the CDC.