Iowa City mayor issues mask mandate despite governor's objections

Iowa City mayor issues mask mandate despite governor's objections
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Iowa City, Iowa, Mayor Bruce Teague on Tuesday issued a citywide mask mandate despite Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds previously saying local officials could not require residents to wear face coverings. 

"With the fact of (COVID-19) rising in our community, the simple requirement of wearing masks, it needs to be in place and somebody has to do it," Teague told the Press-Citizen.

The order is effective immediately and lasts until Sept. 15. Failure to comply could result in a misdemeanor charge.

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Less than a week ago Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson issued a citywide mask mandate, to which Reynolds and the Iowa Attorney General’s office responded by saying cities did not have the authority to override state health mandates. Reynolds has not issued a statewide mask mandate. 

Teague has previously teased the prospect of challenging Reynolds on her response to the pandemic, the Press-Citizen reported. He threatened to issue a citywide shelter-in-place order if she did not, but he didn’t follow through after Reynolds told him he lacked the authority.

The mayor said that his decision to issue a mask order comes after scientists have mounted evidence that suggests universal mask wearing could significantly curb the spread of the virus. 

"I think compared to the shutdown order, in comparison, there have been fewer people reaching out for face covering[s], but that is not to say that those who reached out haven’t made great arguments on behalf of the community for that order to be made," Teague said. "They both have a lot of health implications. When a shelter order was on the table, that was a time when COVID-19’s effects were still being learned in our community on how to combat it."

On Tuesday the Iowa Department of Health reported 512 new coronavirus cases and five more deaths, bringing the state's total to 39,419 cases and 798 deaths since the pandemic began.