Mask Up Ozarks Encourages Proper Face Mask Usage

While there is no mandate, the recommendations to wear a face mask is supported by government officials at the state and city levels. The Mask Up Ozarks coalition says that wearing a mask properly is our armor to battle the pandemic, which is in full effect in our community.

“Wearing a mask is a choice of the citizens of West Plains, however, we highly encourage everyone to follow the CDC guidelines and wear a mask in public places,” said Tom Stehn, Administrator of the City of West Plains.

Officials at the Howell County Health Department also state that wearing a mask is important, but wearing it properly is even more important.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are five tips on proper facemask usage:

  1. Wear masks with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19
  2. Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  3. Masks should be worn by people two years and older
  4. Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance
  5. Do NOT wear masks intended for healthcare workers, for example, N95 respirators
  6. CDC does not recommend the use of gaiters or face shields. Evaluation of these face covers is on-going but effectiveness is unknown at this time.

“Wearing a mask and social distancing has helped many communities flatten the curve and keep their hospitals from being overwhelmed,” said Dr. William McGee, Chief Medical Officer, Ozarks Medical Center. “We are seeing an increase in patients with COVID-19 who need care in the hospital. This pandemic is real and it’s happening in your back yard. I, along with other physicians at OMC, urge people to not only wear a mask but to wear it properly.”

The Mask Up Ozarks coalition was formed in August 2020 in an effort to educate and encourage the community about facemasks. Members of the coalition include Burton Creek Rural Clinic, City of West Plains, Howell County Health Department, Missouri State University-West Plains, Ozarks Medical Center (OMC), Southern Missouri Community Health Center (SMCHC), and West Plains Schools. For more information about Mask Up Ozarks, visit

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Ozarks Medical Center’s Emergency Department supports Mask Up Ozarks.

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