Dubuque County health board revises business piece of mask mandate proposal

The Dubuque County Board of Health on Tuesday night removed language from a proposed countywide mask mandate that required businesses to turn away customers not complying with the rule.

“If we put it that strongly, we’re going to get even more opposition,” said Board Member Lynn Sutton.

The board recently indicated its intention to again potentially recommend a mandate in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

County supervisors voted, 2-1, last month against putting a mandate into place after the board recommended it for the first time.

On Tuesday, Board of Health members focused on the latest draft proposal.

Instead of requiring businesses to turn away noncomplying customers, the section will be changed to require signage at the entrances informing people that face coverings are required inside and that, should they not have one, one would be provided.

That raised the question of the availability for Dubuque County to provide those masks. Board of Health Chairman Tom Bechen said the board had “already had that discussion.”

“Through the (county’s emergency operations center) last we heard there were something like 30,000 masks available,” he said.

The latest draft still requires people older than 3 to wear face coverings in interior public spaces and businesses, as well as when they are outside if they are unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from others.

Exceptions exist, such as for those with breathing difficulty or under oxygen treatment, or those legally or medically required not to wear masks.

This is the form in which the Board of Health will publish the resolution as required ahead of a public hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. During that hearing, residents can weigh in on the latest proposal.

Board members have indicated they then plan to vote on the resolution after that hearing. Their vote is just a recommendation that then goes on to the county supervisors again.

During a work session Monday, Supervisors Dave Baker and Ann McDonough gave little indication that their stances have changed since they voted against a mandate last month.

Supervisor Jay Wickham is in favor of such a mandate.