Since Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds started allowing previously closed businesses to reopen, the Dubuque County Board of Health has considered adopting a new message regarding the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid contradiction.
Until recently, the board had used Dubuque County Supervisor Dave Baker’s message — “You’re not stuck at home; you’re safe at home” — as a way to encourage residents to not leave their house unless absolutely necessary.
But when the governor removed restrictions on businesses, that message started seeming contradictory to board of health members.
“We’re getting beyond that,” said Chairman Tom Bechen.
To avoid mixed messaging, they wanted a message that encouraged residents to be safe if they patronized businesses and that encouraged businesses to follow public health measures.
They found that in the Mask of Wellness program out of Iowa City. It was created by emergency room physician Dr. David Krupp and retail pharmacist Robbie Schwenker in May “to help preserve the nation’s economy while at the same time maintaining healthy practices for the public,” according to the organization’s website. It is referred to by its authors as a “simple safety and self-certification program.”
Businesses can register on the website if they follow the few main measures promoted by the program. Those include having all employees wear masks at all times, hand and surface sanitizing by all employees, social distancing as much as possible and checking employees for the main symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis.
“These are things laid out by Board of Health Member Dr. Bobby Koneru about approaches to how we’re going to live with the coronavirus for the next while — not something that’s just pertinent to the next few weeks,” said Ed Raber, the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors’ interim executive director, during a recent meeting. “Those overlapped significantly or entirely.”
This certification is on the honor system, but if a business signs up, it receives a toolkit with notices to post letting customers know it follows those steps.