Oshkosh City Council considers public mask mandate

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City of Oshkosh logo.(WBAY)
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 11:01 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Oshkosh City Council members are considering enforcing a public mask mandate.

The City Council discussed the mandate during a meeting Tuesday night, however the council didn’t vote on the measure.

The Council will continue to craft the ordinance, and some council members say it should model the one Green Bay just passed.

Due to the discussion, there was an emotional crowd at City Hall during the meeting, with a majority voicing opposition to any ordinance relating to a mask mandate.

“It’s a respiratory disease, it’s infected through the nose - how many people walk around with it under their nose, over their mouth, down under their chin, and up over their forehead? Masks don’t work,” said Oshkosh citizen Marilee Pelko.

“What you’re doing when you mandate a mask is you’re creating Oshksoh to a state of fear. You’re creating it to be a city of fear and I don’t think you want to do that,” said Hanna Nelson, also of Oshkosh.

However, a few people did express support for the ordinance, citing the need to protect the most vulnerable in the community.

“If you ask me, as a Chancellor of UW-Oshkosh, I support a facemask ordinance in the city, yes, I support public measures that align with policies and best practices our university, and the UW-System, have in place to protect the population,” said UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt.

This is the first public hearing on the matter that’s been before the council. The mayor said Tuesday night that it’s a move to possibly prevent another shutdown.

“We want to stay safe, to stay open, that’s really what it amounts to. We want to be a compliment to the university, to large companies, small businesses. We want everybody to be able to stay open. That’s really what it amounts to,” said Oshkosh Mayor Lori Palmeri.

Others say the relatively low number of people who have COVID-19 in the city mask this an overreach.

“You’ve heard the numbers I don’t need to bring it up again. There’s just not enough scientific evidence to validate a mandatory mask. It’s just not there,” said Oshkosh citizen Amy Helwig.

Other questions arose as to who would enforce the ordinance, and who might be exempt, which are still being discussed.

The issue will likely be back before the Council again in two more weeks.

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