MARYVILLE, Mo. — In Northwest Missouri, the Maryville City Council passed a mask mandate Wednesday with COVID-19 cases climbing in Nodaway County.
The move comes just weeks before classes resume at Northwest Missouri State University.
Some residents and businesses like Title Town Bar and Grill — where a sign says masks aren’t allowed — are now going to have to shift gears.
Tim Jackson said his sign will come down Monday when the mask mandate will be enforced, but until then, if you come to Title Town, leave your mask in the car.
“I mean, we are Americans,” Jackson said. “I’m not breaking any laws. I’m not doing anything wrong. It’s just simply no mask allowed.”
He said he was already shut down for 45 days and lost a lot of money. Now he doesn’t understand how wearing a mask to and from the front door is going to stop the spread of anything.
“We’re just, we’re just small town,” Jackson said. “There’s been very few cases in Nodaway County.”
But that’s not the case anymore.
“Last week our positive cases have doubled,” Maryville City Manager Greg McDanel said.
On Wednesday, the day the council passed the mask requirement, Maryville had 70 positive cases.
“While those numbers are still low, we’re obviously concerned as our community moves forward with the re-arrival of close to 7,000 students coming to our community from various parts of the country and world,” McDanel said.
Thousands of students will flood to Northwest Missouri State in just a few weeks. A handful of student athletes have already contracted the virus.
“It’s unfortunate they tested positive, but we’ll power through that,” said Matt Baker, vice president of student affairs and NW Missouri State. “We’ll deal with it, and we’ll continue to make the best of what we have and help other students stay safe.”
As the school continues its months-long planning and implements safety measures, locals like Pam Peterson won’t go anywhere without her mask.
“I’ve lived through so much already,” she said. “I’ve lived through him in combat. I’ve lost my brother to Agent Orange-related cancers. I’ve lost friends to this virus. And I think to myself, what’s wrong with just putting on a mask?”
As the wife of a veteran and a member of a military family, she said a piece of cloth isn’t a violation of anyone’s civil liberties.
“Everyone in my family that served in the military had the flag over their coffin,” Peterson said. “I understand freedom. We know it full well. This has nothing to do with freedom. This has to do with personal responsibility. This is a health crisis.”
The mask mandate went into effect as soon as the vote passed Wednesday, but enforcement and fines don’t start until Monday.
Classes at Northwest Missouri State begin Aug. 19.