The Jonesboro Public Safety Committee on Monday (July 13) passed an ordinance suggestion to the full Jonesboro City Council that, if passed, would require residents to wear masks in public. The committee also forwarded a resolution that strongly recommends the use of masks in public. The council will consider the ordinance and the resolution at its meeting slated for July 21.
“Upon consultation with the ADH and the governor’s office, the city of Jonesboro, Arkansas requires the usage of facial coverings according to ADH guidance in an effort to help curb the spread of Covid-19 except when it is likely that physical distancing of at least six (6) feet from other individuals is practicable, in particular to protect the most vulnerable members of our community, as well as to ensure that the hard won progress made by the citizens of Arkansas in reopening our shared economy is preserved,” the first section of the ordinance states.
The ordinance would allow the city to be more pro-active in supporting businesses that are enforcing mask wearing rules. There were no penalities outlined in the ordinance for non-compliance.
The move comes as the number of cases and deaths in Northeast Arkansas continues to accelerate upward. Craighead County reported 565 cumulative cases as of Tuesday with seven deaths, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Mississippi County, which has become a hot spot for new cases in recent days, now has 337 confirmed cases with three deaths.
St. Francis County, which has had the most cases in the region in recent weeks is nearing 1,000 with 911 confirmed cases and three deaths. Adjacent Crittenden County has 865 cases and an northeast Arkansas high of 14 deaths.
Counties in the Ozark hills section of the region have the highest per capita COVID-19 death rate in the region. Lawrence County has only 115 cases, but nine deaths, while Sharp County has 69 cases and five deaths.
Most reported deaths in the region are tied to nursing homes, the AHD reported.