Maryville masks photo

Patrons wait outside a business Thursday in Maryville, Missouri. In July, the city council passed a mandate requiring masks in most indoor areas, something set to begin today in St. Joseph.

It’s impossible to know the exact impact St. Joseph’s impending mask mandate will have, but if the city of Maryville is any indication, new COVID-19 cases should begin to decline if the rule is followed.

City Manager Greg McDanel told News-Press NOW on Wednesday that Maryville has seen a decline in COVID-19 cases after the city council passed a mask mandate in July.

St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurray issued an order, effective on Thursday, that requires all businesses to have patrons wear masks if social distancing guidelines can’t be followed.

“If you look at the data from positive daily cases, when the mask ordinance went into place, we saw a reduction of daily positive cases,” McDanel said. “There was a spike when university students moved back, and then it has been on the decline again.”

According to the latest data provided by the St. Joseph Health Department, 1,846 cases of COVID-19 have been reported to date in Buchanan County. Nearly 50 new cases were reported overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Unlike St. Joseph’s order, which places the onus on businesses to require patrons to wear masks, Maryville’s order does allow its department of public safety to fine individuals who don’t comply.

St. Joseph’s order is was issued under mayoral authority, while Maryville’s was instituted via a majority vote of the city’s council. A majority of St. Joseph council members support the mayor’s order.

McDanel said that like St. Joseph’s order, businesses can be fined for failing to comply. However, McDanel told News-Press NOW that the city had only issued warnings so far.

Buchanan County commissioners are scheduled to meet on Thursday at 11 a.m. to decide if they will impose their own mask order, which would apply to all areas of the county. Nodaway County, for which Maryville is the county seat, has not imposed such an order on its rural areas.

In an interview with News-Press NOW on Wednesday, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said he supports Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s decision to leave any mask mandates to local authorities, even though it can create inconsistent policy from different municipalities.

“I think we’ve got to continue to be responsive to what those local (COVID-19) numbers are,” Hawley said. “I think local leaders should look carefully at what the facts on the ground are.”

Mayor’s order won’t close Bode Ice Arena

Despite rumors, Bode Ice Arena won’t close under the mayor’s emergency order. Chuck Kempf, St. Joseph’s director of Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities, confirmed to News-Press NOW that the arena will remain open.

Car dealerships not exempt under latest order

While car dealerships have been specifically exempt under past mask mandates in St. Joseph, McMurray told News-Press NOW that they will have to comply with his order alongside all other businesses.

Matt Hoffmann can be reached at matt.hoffmann@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NpNowHoffmann.