EDITORIAL NOTE: The original version of this story incorrectly reported Logan city leaders were extending their mask mandate through Oct. 15.
LOGAN, Utah — The Logan City Council voted to replace its mask mandate, which ends later this month, with a resolution instead focusing on educating residents about wearing masks.
The resolution is “a declaration of an opinion that lawmakers want to emphasize. It is not enforced by ordnance,” explained Jess Bradfield, a Logan City Council member, in a conversation with KSL NewsRadio. “In this case, we determined that we would use an education campaign to spread the best methods to contain COVID-19.”
The vote came after strong objections to the mask mandate from people who live and work in Logan.
Opposition to a mask mandate
Restaurateur Jason Henderson told the council Tuesday night that they were focusing on the wrong issue, and pointed out that there have been more suicides in the Cache Valley than COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic.
He also said the mask mandate has been tough on businesses like his.
“I think the mask mandate is a tax to me as a business owner because of additional things. I can’t sit as many people in my restaurant because of what has to happen with mask mandates and social distancing. All of a sudden, I can [only] put one-fourth as many people in there,” Henderson said.
Longtime resident Nyla Adams was also upset because people she works with are in a panic.
“The fear-mongering has gotta stop. People need to be able to get back to their lives … Wash your hands, be as clean as you can, do the things you need to do, and if people want to wear a mask, wear a mask. That’s fine. But for everybody to be compelled? I find it very immoral,” Adams said.
Resident Bryson Freeze believes the needs of Utah State University are being put above the community.
“I believe the mayor acted in fear [when the original mask mandate was issued] and copied the university’s standards rather than focusing on the public’s benefit, including both its citizens and the small businesses to which it serves,” Freeze said.
A resolution compromise
Not everyone at the meeting opposed the mask mandate, and several supportive comments the council received online were read into the record.
However, councilman Bradfield said Logan residents felt like a mandate was an abuse of government power.
“The community reached out to us and said ‘please don’t lead with mandating us. Please lead with asking us,'” said Bradfield.
And the council decided there was some merit to community concerns. Bradfield also pointed to the low COVID-19 case numbers in Cache County, citing great work done by the community to slow the spread of the virus.
Additionally, members of the community shared how they felt stigmatized for not being able to wear a mask due to health concerns.
“We encourage people to spread goodwill while respecting the physical limitations of others,” Bradfield said. “We want everyone to understand we care about mitigating the risks [of COVID-19] but we also want everyone to respect each other.”
Ultimately, in a 4-1 vote, the Logan City Council opted not to extend the mask mandate but compromised with the resolution encouraging masks until Oct. 15. The resolution is intended to be an educational opportunity for Logan residents, according to Bradfield.
“Most of the education campaign is going to be ways to avoid and mitigate the spread of COVID,” said Bradfield. “Our intention is also to provide ways to cope and increase mental health and get the resources necessary.”
Bradfield noted that during the council meeting, residents expressed concern of rising suicidal thoughts due to isolation.
Within the next week, two city council members will meet with city administration to research the best methods for the educational campaign. Statistical analysis and data will be presented to the public once public officials have met.
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