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Aberdeen city council informally discusses mask mandate

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:30 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - At the end of its Monday evening meeting, the topic of what a potential mask mandate would look like was brought up in the Aberdeen City Council, and what could be done if a mandate was passed.

The question came up of what the city could legally do to mandate masks; and if they could, would it be feasible for the community. Mayor Travis Schaunaman says that the biggest consideration for him when talking about a mask mandate is the communication the city has with its local healthcare providers.

“From the very beginning of this thing, the real concern we had as a community was, ‘Was there a possibility we could overwhelm our hospital systems?’ And we’ve been in good communication with the hospital systems, we’re assured that they can handle the case counts that they’re seeing and hospitalizing,” Schaunaman says.

It’s a sentiment echoed by council member Tiffany Langer. She says that listening to providers is the most important factor in building the city’s plan of action against the virus, and says that if they begin asking the city to consider a mask mandate, then the council should take that advice.

“I am taking all the guidance from health care officials because I’m not an expert in that. And I will never say no to them. So, if they’re guiding us in that way, I’m going to listen,” Langer says.

For Schaunaman, he says a mask mandate is outside of the scope that a local government should be enforcing. Instead, he says that people should be taking into consideration their own health and safety when out in public settings, and taking the measures they feel comfortable with.

“That will make a bigger impact that, us telling people what to do or forcing people to do things. And I think that it’s the appropriate way to handle it in the first place," Schaunaman says.

There’s no motion at the moment for the city council to vote on a mask mandate, but both Schaunaman and Langer say they’re sure the discussion will continue in the community and in council meetings when brought up.

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