Face Masks

Courtesy / Rachel Glade

Seven months into the global pandemic, most of us have grown accustomed to wearing cloth or surgical face masks to help prevent the spread of a COVID-19, but for individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired and rely on lipreading to understand what's being said to them, masks pose a serious communication barrier. At least there is a clear solution, experts say. 

Courtesy / UAMS

To help little ones cope with fears that may come with having an instructor with a partially covered face, Arkansas State University Childhood Services and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences partnered to create an informational book called My Teacher Wears a Mask. The book helps children understand the mask is for safety and contains activities adults can complete with kids to help them feel more comfortable with masks.

J. Froelich / KUAF

Opinions on the use of face coverings continue to evolve since a COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Two experts with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences reveal which masks are best to wear, how to use them and what protections face coverings offer.  

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Ever since Governor Asa Hutchinson issued an emergency order requiring the wearing of face coverings in public places to help stop the spread of COVID-19, signage and social media threads reveal a growing number of Arkansans are claiming both medical and constitutional grounds to remain mask-free.

J. Froelich / KUAF

A statewide mandate ordered by Governor Asa Hutchinson that went into effect Monday,  requires the wearing of face coverings in public indoor and outdoor places to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The governor, however, left prioritizing enforcement of the mandate to county and city law officials to decide. We travel to Siloam Springs where the city public information officer and police chief are deploying the emergency mandate, and get comment from Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Northwest Arkansas COVID-19 Task Force is collecting face coverings to donate to area school districts to give to students. Residents can donate handmade cloth masks or purchased single-use masks. The drive ends on August 7 and donations can be dropped off at the following locations:

 

On Tuesday, the Springdale City Council passed a resolution that throws its support behind businesses that require patrons to wear masks. Mayor Doug Sprouse said the resolution allows business owners to decide what is right for their establishment and is enforceable by police. However, many residents want the city to pass a mandatory mask ordinance, especially given the disproportionate impact the virus has had on members of the region's Marshallese and Latino communities, many of whom live in Springdale.

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Eureka Springs City Council met Monday evening to debate the merits of a COVID-19 mask mandate in order to protect townspeople from what some describe as "hoards" of unmasked tourists visiting this summer. A special meeting is scheduled to decide the matter Thursday. 

After a nearly three-hour long special meeting Saturday morning, the Fort Smith Board of Directors voted 4 to 3 to table the discussion of a mask ordinance. The board approved a resolution July 7 prior to proposing an ordinance that was adapted from a model ordinance unveiled by Gov. Hutchinson earlier this month. The board's next regular meeting is July 21.

On Monday, the Rogers City Council held a special meeting where it passed an ordinance requiring face masks in indoor and outdoor public spaces where maintaining social distancing isn't possible. The ordinance comes after Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an executive order allowing cities to mandate mask use using a model ordinance designed by the Arkansas Municipal League.

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