On a vote of five to three, mask mandate for Trenton is defeated; health department director authorized to sign 60-day mask order

Mask Mandate News Graphic

On what turned out to be a split vote, the Trenton City Council on Monday night defeated a request to have a mask or face covering mandate due to the spread of COVID-19 within Trenton.

On a roll call, which is usual for an ordinance, there were three votes in favor and five votes against. Voting in favor were Cathie Smith, John Dolan, and Glen Briggs. Opposed were Marvin Humphreys, Dave Mlika, Duane Urich, Kevin Klinginsmith, and Danny Brewer.

The vote came after five health care professionals and Mayor Linda Crooks spoke in favor of issuing the mask mandate.

Councilman Danny Brewer was the first to speak noting he had been contacted over 300 times; with most of them opposed to the mandate. Brewer said some leaders in Trenton businesses were worried about losing business, with shoppers not coming into their stores and/or possibly going elsewhere. Glenn Briggs admitted, “he was on the fence” regarding the issue; realizing that whichever the vote went, many persons were going to be upset. Cathie Smith said the contacts she received favored the mask mandate in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. John Dolan said based on his contacts, those who were opposed could not offer him any other solution.

Mayor Crooks appealed to the council for their help, noting there’s nothing more important than the health and safety of the citizens of Trenton. She said we all should be wearing a mask in a community effort to show we care about each other.

While the council did not adopt the ordinance on face coverings, it was revealed by that the Grundy County Health Department Board of Trustees has already authorized its director to sign a masking order for 60 days. Elizabeth Gibson said she and the board was hoping to get the city of Trenton support for what she described as “strengthening” their position – noting the health department was “ready to stand” with the city. A similar appeal is expected to be made Tuesday morning with the Grundy County Commission.

Others addressing the city council in requesting the city’s support of the face masks requirement were Wright Memorial CEO Steve Schieber, Kathryn Hamilton of the nursing staff, Doctor Jennifer Bowe of the physician’s group, and Doctor Borhani on behalf of Mosiac Life Care at Trenton. Each discussed in their own words, the strain COVID-19 is having on the patients, doctors and nurses, and the lack of critical care beds at the hospitals in Trenton and Chillicothe. It was mentioned patients are being sent to metro area hospitals if and when beds are available there.

By the time the council agenda advanced to its last topic, the face mask ordinance, as many as 100 viewers were participating on Zoom. That’s many more than any other council meeting since the online application was made available earlier in the year.

Of the hundred, there were four councilmen, the mayor, the city clerk, the city attorney, and department heads online. (Council members participating via zoom were Humphreys, Klinginsmith, Urich, and Dolan.)