HASTINGS – The mask policy in the City of Hastings will expire on Tuesday at 11:59pm after the Hastings City Council failed to get enough votes for an immediate extension at their Monday night meeting.
Council member Ginny Skutnik proposed an amendment to extend the mask ordinance that would expire when the South Heartland District averaged eight or fewer cases on a two week rolling average but would reinstate if the numbers jumped back up. It would also end when the CDC declared the pandemic over or the council later voted to end it.
That amendment failed. Butch Eley and Ted Schroeder were absent from the meeting. Councilmember Chuck Rosenberg offered a different amendment that would have the policy sunset if those same metrics were hit or on March 23, whichever came first.
Ensuring the citizens that the council will take a look at this in that period of time, in a month from now. We’re missing two representatives from the entire second ward, I’ve never seen that happen in my time on city council. This way if we haven’t hit the average, we’ll take a look at it. If we hit the average, so be it. The people that wanted the mask mandate were looking for at least thirty days and that could end in two weeks if we hit that. But at least this way, we at the council will take a look at it.
Rosenberg’s amendment passed despite Hartmann and Jeniffer Beahm voting against.
The mask ordinance itself passed 5-1 on first reading. An attempt to suspend normal rules and put the ordinance in effect immediately failed. That second and final reading would have required 6 yes votes. Shawn Hartmann was the lone no vote. He explained why he voted against it.
In the last thirty six hours I’ve made myself pretty available for people for comment. I don’t feel that we represent people in a prison style situation. I think that we need to listen to them. And I’m actually at the point now where I would have to vote against extending the mask ordinance based on my ward and representing it fairly. I think we should represent the people that elected us into our position. I’m honestly overwhelmed at the response was as much as it was in the last 36 hours, I didn’t expect such change.
The ordinance can advance to second reading at the next council meeting on March 8, but the mask policy will sunset until then.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting seven people spoke in favor of the extension, including Michele Bever of the South Heartland District Health Department, the President of the Medical Staff at Mary Lanning Hospital, and Chuck Neuman, who is on the Adams County Board of Supervisors. The Chief Medical Officer of Mary Lanning Healthcare also sent a letter in favor of extending the policy. Three people spoke against.