Local Health Experts Stress Need For Black Hawk Co. Mask Mandate

Photo by Emily Ross

Face covering regulation was the main agenda item at today’s Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors meeting, Black Hawk County Board of Health urged the board to take action.

Dr. Belinda Creighton-Smith opened the meeting by expressing concerns for children returning to school.

“I’m concerned that when our children return to school, they will not only be infected, but they will take it home to their parents and grandparents and the rest of the community,” she said. “And we know communities of color have been hit the hardest by this virus disproportionately.”

Black Hawk County Board of Health members then shared their thoughts. Chair Dr. Mary Robinson and Vice Chair Dr. Catherine Zeman agreed with Dr. Creighton-Smith regarding communities of color being the most vulnerable.

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“About three quarters of the MIS-C [Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome] patients and children, according to CDC data just released prior to the weekend, have been found to be Latino and African American children,” said Dr. Zeman. “They also have an 8 to 4 times higher hospitalization rate than Anglo children, and if we are going to open schools and have a 15% gain on when we might decide to slow things down and shut down schools, that’s very concerning to me that so many Latinx and African American children have been impacted this way.”

Dr. Zeman then turned the attention to masks: “Our mask ordinance is overdue.”

Citing predictions that a serious wave of infections will rival that of the Memorial Day holiday will occur as a result of opening schools, she added, “I think the idea that we would require people to cover their faces in order to give the schools at least a fighting chance to be open safely and equitably is a very important thing we should all think about.”

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Via Zoom chat, Dr. Creighton-Smith stated, “American Academy of Pediatrics reported 97,000 children tested positive the last two weeks of July after classes resumed.”

“If we are going to keep our schools open, if we are going to keep our businesses open, if we’re going to keep our communities open,” said Dr. Adam Roise, a family practitioner in Waterloo, “the one thing we have to do as a society really is to do the one thing that we really can … Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many people who aren’t wearing the masks and I think as a physician, that’s the one thing that helps me in my job take care of patients, that’s the one thing that helps me and my family take care of each other is to wear masks.”

Dr. Wes Pilkington, pharmacist, also agreed with the mask requirement.

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While the discussion included whether or not face coverings should be enforceable, members did not want that to take the focus off of what needed to be done.

“I pray that we will do the right thing to demonstrate our concern for human lives rather than our status and political support,” wrote Dr. Creighton-Smith in the Zoom chat. “We have to look at the data and what other nations have done to mitigate for this disease.”

The Board of Health will hold a public hearing on a mask mandate next week, after which the Board of Supervisors will take a vote..

 

by Rachelle Chase
Posted 8/11/20

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