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OUR OPINION: Local orders for face mask use should be allowed by state of Iowa

OUR OPINION: Local orders for face mask use should be allowed by state of Iowa


Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday said a face mask mandate ordered to begin this week by Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson isn't valid because a local official can't require something in conflict with state rules contained in the governor's coronavirus public health proclamation.

Fair enough.

Then she should rework the proclamation.

When it comes to a face mask order, one size doesn't necessarily fit all of the state. Every county in Iowa isn't the same in terms of rate of infections and total case numbers. If, after proper consultation with health officials and review of virus data, a mayor or a body of elected leaders determines a face mask requirement is in the best public health interests of their constituents, they should have the authority to implement one.

We understand the need for the state to maintain a significant degree of control and uniformity in its coronavirus response, but we do not believe a local decision to require face masks impairs efforts by the governor and her administration to manage the pandemic in Iowa in any way, shape or form.

On Tuesday, Reynolds said she possesses the power to enable local officials to mandate face masks if they choose and is considering doing so in 10 counties facing a spike in positive cases of COVID-19 (on Thursday, the state reported 670 new positive cases, pushing the total to more than 33,000).

“It’s one of the things we’re going to look at," she said.

That’s good to hear because, in our view, the state's next adjustment to its coronavirus strategy should be support for allowing local face mask mandates.

One final, troubling side note to the face mask order issued by Muscatine's mayor. Muscatine police are investigating an allegation an individual threatened Broderson's life on a social media site over the face mask mandate. If the allegation is proven true, what a sad commentary it would be on the times in which we live.

Our Opinion editorials represent the consensus view of The Sioux City Journal editorial board. Members of the board include: Bruce Miller, editor; Michael Gors, editorial page editor; Dave Dreeszen; managing editor; Tim Hynds, chief photographer.

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