MASON CITY, Iowa - There is no statewide mask mandate in Iowa, except for some large gatherings. Now the call has gone out for every business to make masks mandatory.
"A lot of businesses aren't making this a requirement and we think that puts our population at risk," said MercyOne North Iowa CEO Rod Schlader. He's putting out the call to local businesses to help fight COVID-19 by requiring masks. He says community-wide spread of the virus is putting a serious dent in the hospital's work force and filling up hospital beds.
"Back in March, we were in the 20 employee range, 25 and now we're more like in the 60 to 75 employees being out sick. So, yeah, that's something we have to manage around every day," he said.
One local business is heeding the call. Art On The Plaza is requiring masks and has done so since reopening earlier this year.
"I think we all have to do our part. If we all wore masks for a certain amount of time, this would be over," said Becky Kyhl, one of the artists who runs the store.
It's a rule that's non-negotiable for them.
"We have escorted some non-wearers, gently, with kind words out the door," she said.
They are not concerned about losing business over the requirement. In fact, they feel they'll be attracting more customers by giving everyone piece of mind.
"It's a safe feeling, that's the way I feel and I think a lot of people think that way. They want to shop where they're feeling safe," said Susan Nagle with Art On The Plaza.
With so many workers out sick, MercyOne North Iowa has had to bring in contract workers to fill the gaps. Schlader says there's so much demand for contract workers across the country, it is getting very expensive to bring them on.