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Jefferson County board revokes mask ordinance one day after it was passed

Jefferson County board revokes mask ordinance one day after it was passed

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HILLSBORO — Jefferson County on Friday revoked the mask mandate it had passed a day prior.

At an emergency meeting, the Jefferson County Health Center Board of Trustees voted unanimously to revoke the ordinance. The decision was made after residents raised concerns about whether the board had appropriately notified the public before discussing the ordinance, the county said.

"It is extremely important to the Board and Director of the Health Center that residents feel confident in the process that is used when preparing public orders," the board said in a statement.

The board said it had not determined a date for a future meeting to consider the order again.

The board had approved the ordinance Thursday, 3-2, after a contentious meeting that lasted more than five hours.

State Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, raised concerns on Friday about potential Sunshine Law violations related to the ordinance.

"I am concerned about the lack of notice, and the apparent disregard for the protections put in place for public accessibility and transparency," Coleman said in a statement Friday.

Coleman said that she was preparing to file a lawsuit against the board Friday afternoon, before she learned about the emergency meeting to revoke the ordinance.

The ordinance aimed to limit further spread of COVID-19 and would have required all individuals five years and older to wear a face mask when within Jefferson County. It included exemptions for medical conditions, and for instances when people are outdoors or are exercising and able to maintain six feet of distance.

It also would have required employers to provide face masks to employees.

The ordinance would have gone into effect on Monday and lasted until at least Sept. 25.

Jefferson County has reported 2,663 cases of COVID-19, and 45 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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