Missouri city considers mask mandate due to coronavirus outbreak

Citizens gather in downtown Joplin Missouri | Photo by City of Joplin

One city in Missouri may require masks in public after it topped a list that tracks the average growth rate for COVID-19 cases.

Joplin, roughly 160 miles south of Kansas City, Missouri, has the highest coronavirus case growth rate in the nation at 11.9 percent.

With the rapid rise in cases occurring, the Joplin City Council has set a special meeting Wednesday to discuss whether to impose a face mask mandate.

Mayor Ryan Stanley said the council will discuss similar ordinances that were enacted by the cities of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Phoenix, Arizona.

He said that he has received emails from residents about the spread of the virus, with about half calling for a city mandate on wearing masks and half asking that the city not impose the requirement.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The news comes as Governor Mike Parson refuses to rule out a second statewide lockdown.

"The governor is focused on reopening the state, but a second stay-at-home order is not off the table," said one staffer in Parson's office.

Last week, the governor extended Missouri's state of emergency for COVID-19 until December 30th.

"We have to remember that COVID-19 is still out there," said Parson, reiterating that the pandemic is not over.

Extending the state of emergency will allow the governor to continue funding local governments during future lockdowns.