Mayor Ken McClure says he's "strongly encouraging citizens to use face masks" ahead of a possible ordinance by the city.
SBJ photo by Geoff Pickle
Mayor Ken McClure says he's "strongly encouraging citizens to use face masks" ahead of a possible ordinance by the city.

With masks recommended, city continues third reopening phase

Posted online

The city of Springfield's third coronavirus reopening phase will continue as scheduled, though officials this morning delivered a strict warning as community spread has increased locally.

Speaking at a livestreamed news conference, Mayor Ken McClure said Phase III of the Road to Recovery plan would remain in place as planned through July 15. In enacting the phase a month ago, city officials said they would review the order by July 5. The third phase increased occupancy at businesses to 50% from 25%.

"Before July 15, we will announce whether our community is ready to open beyond 50%," McClure said. "COVID-19 is not ready to be done with us yet. We must continue to take personal responsibility to do what we can to stop it in its tracks."

Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Clay Goddard said the percentage of cases that did not have a known origin – aka community spread – rose to 18% in June from 3.5% in May.

"That's a marked increase and that tells me that there's been a change in our community," he said. "Our rush to return to normalcy is making us sick.”

Both McClure and Goddard recommended the use of face masks. Goddard on Monday night told City Council he is working on a face mask ordinance to present to the governing body. This morning, McClure speculated that such an ordinance could be passed as emergency legislation in one council meeting, though he declined to say when members of the body would discuss a bill.

McClure said council's consideration of a masking ordinance is "the right thing to do."

"I wear a mask to protect you. You wear a mask to protect me," he said.

June marked the largest single month of COVID-19 cases in Greene County to date. As of this morning, there were 316 confirmed cases, up from 206 at the start of June, according to the Health Department's COVID-19 dashboard.