BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Lee County Supervisors have lifted the mask mandate for people using county offices going forward.
At Monday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, supervisors voted unanimously to lift the ban which requires county residents and staff to wear masks inside county office buildings.
The move doesn’t preclude anyone choosing to wear a mask from being able to do so obviously, but Supervisor Gary Seyb, Jr. said it should be up to people at this point to be able to make the choice as to whether they want to wear a face covering or not.
“I’m not saying don’t wear a mask. If you want to wear a mask, wear one, I’m just saying drop the mandate,” Seyb said.
Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross said she would like to see the county’s vaccination rate, which is just over 31% now, a little higher before everyone starts dropping masks.
Supervisor Ron Fedler said he thinks the numbers is higher than that because Lee County residents could have gone out of state being on the border of two other states, to get vaccinated. Chair Matt Pflug said he was vaccinated in Hamilton, Ill., across the river from Keokuk.
“I would like the public to know that those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to use those personal protective measures we’ve been promoting all along,” she said. “And those vaccinated but immuno-compromised should consult with health care provider.”
Ross said the Centers for Disease Control updated guidance last week loosening recommendations for face coverings at outdoor events and certain indoor events.
“We still need to work together protecting everyone,” she said. “The CDC did come out with these recommendations. It was a little quick I think and without a little warning that it was coming out. Local public health is working with the state to see how we should continue working with communities based on our numbers that we are still keeping an eye on.”
Lee County Recorded Nancy Booten said she was still “a little leery”. Booten’s office is in the north Lee County office building.
“I would go with what you say, but I’m still going to wear my mask,” Booten said.
Lee County Treasurer Chris Spann, who has offices in both the north and south Lee County office buildings said she won’t be wearing her mask all the time.
Ross said those who’ve been vaccinated should feel a little more confident, but there is still concern for exposure.
“I’d like to see (vaccination rates) higher before people are just feeling they are just fine,” Ross said.
“Those vaccinated should feel a little bit more comfortable, but my concern is if businesses start dropping mask (requirements), those that aren’t vaccinated are going to be at risk of possibly being exposed. So make good decisions and choices for yourself.
“It’s important for people to realize that even though we might be coming out on the other side of this, we do have to stay vigilant.”
She said there isn’t a shortage of vaccines so anyone 16 and over who wants a vaccine locally can get one.
“The problems is there is hesitancy on some peoples’ part to take the vaccine. I would encourage those hesitant or with concerns to talk with their health care providers or local health department. These are effective and that’s why CDC is changing recommendations,” Ross said.
Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise said the plexiglass barriers that were put up at the outset of the pandemic will probably stay up permanently.