No mask ordinance for Camden County

Joyce L. Miller
Some community colleges at the Lake area updating their COVID-related policies which include the use of masks in the classroom.

The Camden County Commissioners may not agree on much, but when it comes to implementing a mask ordinance, all three agree that is not going to happen.

As the Delta variant rate surges, fueling debates statewide over restrictions, the Camden County Commissioners are not inclined to get involved in discussions or mandates to force residents or businesses to require masks in Camden County.

The counties surrounding Lake of the Ozarks — Camden, Miller and Morgan — are among those in Missouri seeing a summer surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations. With the summer tourist season in full swing, the transmission of the virus is not expected to slow down anytime soon.  

While all three agree it is worrisome to see case numbers, none feel it is within the county’s right to it interfere with what is a personal choice for residents and business owners. The commission has not and will not be placing any discussion item on the agenda.

“I don’t believe the commission should interfere,” Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty said. He pointed to the economic impact an order could have on Lake of the Ozark and Camden County, in particular. “Our economy is strong. Last year when other first class counties implemented mask ordinances, their businesses suffered.”

Associate Commissioner Don Williams said he is not interested in getting involved in the debate of those who support mask mandates and those who do not. Those decisions, as well as whether or not to follow COVID protocols, are up to individuals and business owners.

Associate Commissioner James Gohagan referred to an ordinance passed by the county in January of this year, supporting the county’s right not to impose restrictions on a local level.

“People would lose it,” he said. Above all else, Gohagan said he believes Camden County residents want the commission to answer the call of freedom. In Camden County, that means “do not tell us what to do. That’s the culture in Camden County, he said. “The community is demanding freedom.”  

In Morgan County, Health Department Director Shawn Brantley said the county commission will not be discussing any type of mask ordinance.