JOPLIN, Mo. – “On the COVID front, our numbers are absolutely improving,” says Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley.
A decline in COVID-19 numbers is a welcome piece of good news for city officials and residents after a long and stressful year.
Joplin Health Department Director Ryan Talken explains the seven day rolling average is at around seven new cases per day. For contrast, he says the seven day rolling average was closer to 50 new cases per day in mid-November.
The positivity rate is also down — hitting closer to 7 percent. There’s currently 40 active cases, 33 hospitalizations (6 are Joplin residents), and 124 deaths.
“We are absolutely feeling like we’re in a strong position,” says Stanley.
One of the city’s biggest responses to the pandemic is the city wide mask mandate. It was first put into place in July of 2020, and then reinstated in November after the first mandate ended in August. The current mandate is set to expire on February 28th. So the question is — will the city council extend the mandate, or drop it since the numbers are looking so good.
“I feel that masking works. I feel that masking is part of the tool box to control spread,” says Health Department Director Ryan Talken.
We also decided to do a short informal survey, where we went to two different Joplin businesses to see how many people wore masks and how many didn’t. We spent 15 minutes in the first business, and saw 50 people that were wearing a mask, and 17 that were not. At the second business, we spent 30 minutes, and saw 65 people that were wearing a mask, and 30 people that were not.
Mayor Stanley says they aren’t sure what will happen with the mandate. He plans to touch base with each member of the city council to see if it’s something they want to discuss, and then hold a special meeting — more than likely on Thursday of this week — to make a decision.
“With one hand you can say it’s working so well. it’s doing its job. Why would you pull it? And on the other hand you might say, we’ve weathered the storm… just after last week… and we feel like we’re at a place that we can afford to pull it now,” says Stanley. “And I can’t speak for council on that. I’m sure it’ll be weighing out those two things.”
Talken also says that the second dose mass vaccine clinic with the National Guard that was canceled last week has been rescheduled. He says residents who are going to get their shot at the clinic will get a call from the health department or the National Guard this week. He asks that all of those residents have their voice mails set up, and call the number back if a message is left.
Talken says more information about the clinic will be released to the public after the participating residents are notified of the new date, time and place.