Jonesboro mulls mask ordinance as COVID-19 cases and deaths grow across the region

by George Jared ([email protected]) 594 views 

The case and death tolls due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to erupt and the hub city in the region may follow other cities in the state and mandate public mask wearing. Craighead County had 485 cases as 4 p.m. on Wednesday (July 8) and to date there have been seven reported deaths in the county, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

In nearby Crittenden County, there have been 786 cases reported with a region high 13 deaths. St. Francis County has the most total cases with 893 and three deaths have been reported.

Many rural counties throughout the region have reported far fewer cases than in some of the more urbanized areas of the region, but the death toll compared to case number in some rural spots is much higher. For example, Lawrence County has only 103 cases but nine deaths. Sharp County has 56 cases and five deaths. Poinsett County has 63 cases with three deaths, while Clay County has 71 cases and three deaths. The second most populous county in the region, Greene, has 128 cases but no death reports.

Most of the deaths are linked to nursing homes, according to state officials.

As the virus continues to spread sickness and death, city officials in Jonesboro are considering a mask wearing ordinance. City council members Ann Williams and L.J. Bryant proposed an ordinance requiring mask use in public at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, according to Talk Business & Politics content partner KAIT. Earlier in the week, the mayor’s office had stated that it would not seek an ordinance.

During the meeting, several Jonesboro citizens spoke up, including a physician who works in an ER.

“We need to get the message across that you need to wear a mask in public. It’s for your safety, your safety, your safety and all of the people who do not have the disease,” said Steven Blanchard, an emergency room physician who has been working during the pandemic.

The proposed ordinance could go before the Public Safety Committee later this week.