MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As the number of COVID-19 cases surge across the country, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is mulling a statewide mask mandate.

In a letter to the governor, the Minnesota Hospital Association is now asking to mandate masks indoors across the state, and outside where social distancing isn’t possible.

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On Friday afternoon, people in the town of Mora reacted to the possibility. Resident Earl Froelach is in favor of the mandate.

“I think the worst part of this whole virus is that you could be a carrier and you don’t know it,” Froelach said.

(credit: CBS)

In downtown Mora, signs asking people to “mask up” are everywhere. But like so many cities, there’s a debate between the mask wearers and the mask detractors. In some businesses, the decision has already been made. Amy Schifsky is the owner of Shear Wisdom, a salon on Union Street, which is Mora’s main street.

“I think it should be more universal. I feel more comfortable going into stores where they’re requiring masks now, too,” Schifsky said.

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Brady Hish is against the mandate.

“I do not like that idea. I think we should all have our own choice. Whatever we want to do is what we should do. I don’t think a mask does anything anyways. That’s why I don’t wear one,” Hish said.

His friend Kyle Goodroad agreed.

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“If you’re scared, stay home. I don’t think a mask is going to make or break anything,” Goodroad said.

There have been 19 confirmed cases of the virus in Kanabec County. With an aging population, residents like Addison Hill say they would be open to a mask mandate if it helps others.

“I feel like everyone should definitely wear a mask to protect themselves and also, you know, protect the people around them,” Hill said.

For Mora Mayor Alan Skramstad, it comes down to perspective. His sister had COVID-19, and the only COVID-related death so far in the county was a fellow military veteran.

“If the governor mandates it, people will take it serious,” Skramstad said.

He says a statewide mandate would take the pressure off of city governments, who are on a delicate balance of trying to keep people safe and businesses open.

“Main Street is little shops, and they don’t want to be shut down again. We don’t want to shut down. You know, that’s quite an impact on this town,” Skramstad said.

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John Lauritsen