HILLSBORO, Mo. — Many attendees at Jefferson County Health Dept. meeting came because of concerns that the board would again recommend a mask mandate.
Director Kelley Vollmar said they are not making that move. But after recent clashes over masks and data points, the board has another challenge: trying to get everyone to work together.
“I am not going to ask for a mask mandate. I want to put an olive branch out and find a way for our community to come together and work to find positive solutions to this,” Vollmar said at the beginning of the meeting.
Vollmar says the health board recently met with forty community leaders to address some of their biggest concerns to arise from the pandemic.
“Some of the things that were brought up were mental health issues, substance abuse, and the loneliness that has been experienced because of long-term care or people not being able to attend church,” Vollmar said. ” o how can we work with our communities to be able to better give resources for those individuals as well as to help understand the best ways to protect themselves and others?”
If the goal was to find ways to move forward, there seemed to be few suggestions and even fewer moments of agreement.
Even before the meeting started, there was a standoff between board members. One representative, Suzy Davis, was seated in her position but not wearing a mask. She later told reporters she had an asthma attack on her way to the meeting. Several residents began to yell at board members directing Davis to wear a mask, one adding that Vollmar has “an agenda of control.”
Even though Vollmar started the meeting with a direct message that she is not planning to enact a mask mandate, most of the discussions still revolved around their usage.
“I can’t wear a mask. I have this plastic shield because I want to talk [at the microphone], but I can’t wear a mask,” Dave Day said. “They’re not healthy. I mean, breathing in my own germs it’s just… You know, that’s why we have oxygen.”
After more than an hour of public comment, the meeting adjourned with few new solutions.
“Until people understand and believe that the virus is real and it’s not a hoax, then we’re not going to see people work together to take these other measures that need to take place,” Jessica Shepherd, another speaker, said.