Chadron Council Passes Resolution Urging Individual Actions On COVID-19 Spread, Not Mask Mandates

      The Chadron City Council Monday night unanimously passed a resolution urging individuals to use “community prevention strategies” to slow the spread of COVID-19, but only after hearing about an hour of discussion on the issue.

       The resolution supports the regional leadership of the Panhandle Public Health District and warns of the need to reduce the number of local cases to preserve the ability of Chadron Community Hospital to respond to local needs, but doesn’t include a mask mandate – a fear that helped trigger the lengthy discussion.

        New hospital CEO Nathan Hough spent about 20 minutes outlining how the pandemic has affected Chadron Community, how the hospital and its staff are coping, and what are the greatest threats it currently faces.

       Hough was followed by a half-dozen community members, supported by a roughly equal number of audiences who did not speak, who warned against requiring masks and expressed concerns about the need for the resolution and community response against those who don’t believe masks are beneficial. 

       While one speaker referenced mind control and burning witches at the stake in the 1600s, several complained of being the target or observer of verbal abuse against those not wearing masks even if they follow other recommendations including frequent hand-washing and social distancing. 

      Other objections included a lack of consistency in limits that they felt were “heavy-handed” nationally, and the problems mask cause for individuals with asthma and other breathing problems. One speaker said she won’t shop anywhere that masks are required, so she’s now driving to Alliance on a regular basis. 

       Although it became clear the council members, all wearing masks, disagreed with the speakers, all 5 offered thanks at one time or another for the input and tried to reassure the mask opponents that they are not considering mask mandates – only asking everyone to be caring citizens and think of others during the pandemic.