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Thank you, Joplin City Council.

For making the right call and adopting, on a 6-3 vote, a new mask mandate for the city. The measure, which requires face coverings or shields inside public buildings and businesses, on public transport and outside when social distancing isn't possible, will be in effect through February.

For listening to your community's medical and health professionals, who last week had publicly urged you to take this action. The mask mandate is necessary, they told us, because of rapidly rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the area and because if those numbers continue unchecked, our hospital systems will be strained and overwhelmed.

For relying on scientific evidence that masks work. Numerous studies have found that wearing masks reduces community spread of the virus. As one example, Saint Louis University recently found that mask mandates in St. Louis and St. Louis County slowed the spread of the coronavirus over the summer when compared with neighboring counties that didn't require face masks. The study found average daily case growth was 44% less in St. Louis and St. Louis County compared with the neighboring counties three weeks after the metropolitan areas required masks. Twelve weeks after St. Louis-area mask mandates took effect, the average daily case growth was still 40% lower in those areas than in the other suburbs.

For giving residents the opportunity to have their voices heard and taking the council's responsibility to govern seriously.

And thank you in advance to Joplin businesses for complying with the mask mandate, to the city for using appropriate mechanisms to enforce the mandate, and to residents for following the order and wearing a mask. It's not too late to reduce the spread of the virus in our community, and this can help save lives.

Now it's time for our other local government leaders to step up and do the right thing. A mask order in Joplin will help fight the virus, but to really make an impact, such a mandate should be a regional one.

The commissions of Jasper and Newton counties and the councils of Webb City, Carl Junction, Carthage and Neosho should follow suit and adopt their own mask mandates. Because there is so much mobility among the cities and counties, and therefore so much opportunity for the virus to travel, a cohesive, united approach is what's needed now.

The clock is ticking, but there is still time for our other communities to implement a mask mandate. Please do so, for the health and safety of all.

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