South Sioux City leaders discuss mask mandate

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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Nebraska (KCAU) – As COVID-19 cases rise in Dakota County, South Sioux City is once again considering the need for a mask mandate.

“I think it’s a good idea. I mean, I am for it, but I’m not for it. I believe it’s going to pass, not just here, but all over,” Shari Knudsen said.

For many at Monday night’s health board meeting, like Assistant City Administrator Oscar Gomez, a new city-conducted survey of 14 businesses this past week revealed a surprising trend.

“With the businesses that participated, it’s around 60% that people do wear the mask, whether they mandate a mask in their business or if they don’t,” Gomez said.

UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s Dr. Rick Colwell says the numbers don’t lie, and the time to act is now.

“I want everybody to have their freedom, but it does effect the ability of hospitals to take care of all the sick people. [W]e’re still expecting a surge from Thanksgiving weekend, and Christmas is coming up,” Dr. Colwell said.

But South Sioux City Mayor Rod Koch says any mandate would be useless if surrounding communities didn’t follow suit.

“The assistant city administrator’s going to reach out with the county health departments of Union County, Woodbury County and Dakota County. We’re going to try to get together, and talk about more of…a unified response to this,” Mayor Koch said.

Dr. Colwell says he remains cautiously optimistic about South Sioux City’s neighbors embracing mask mandates.

“I think there is the possibility that if one city would take the leadership role and get on board with it, others may follow. There’s no guarantee of that,” Dr. Colwell said.

Health workers say the survey will continue until City Council members once again discuss the potential mandate on December 14th.

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