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COVID onslaught slows as total cases hit 60

Staff writer

Even with one new COVID-19 case Tuesday, bringing Marion County’s total to 60, the county had a significant decrease this past week in the number of new cases reported.

No new cases were reported from Friday evening until Tuesday, with four for the week as a whole.

Even with the drop from last week, when there were six new cases, and two weeks ago, when there were 15, county nurse Diedre Serene isn’t ready to draw conclusions.

“I think it’s too early to tell,” Diedre said. “I’d hate to make any speculation right now.”

Tuesday’s confirmed case was a woman in her 20s. Other cases within the past seven days included a woman in her 70s who was confirmed Aug. 5, a teenage boy Thursday, and a woman in her 30s Friday.

The county’s rate of COVID-19 cases per 1,000 residents is 5.0, or 0.4 higher than a week ago.

In the weeks since Marion required face coverings when social distancing wasn’t possible in public places, most businesses have required that customers and employees wear them.

D & J Liquor has proven to be an exception.

Employee Jackie Palic thinks customers have plenty of room to distance so masks aren’t needed.

“We just do the liquor store shuffle,” she said. “I step six feet back, then you step six feet back.”

Palic serves 100 customers a day but said there rarely is an occasion where they can’t be at least six feet apart.

Ace Hardware employee Michael Anderson has noticed that senior citizens seem most likely not to wear masks.

“I think they’re challenging the system,” he said. “They don’t like being told what to do.

He thinks many people, don’t like how politically divisive the topic has become.

Anderson thinks half of customers wear masks when inside the business. That’s similar to what employees of other businesses say they’ve seen.

About 50% of customers at Lanning Pharmacy have been wearing masks, but employees are less sure of specific demographics.

Traveling the city to see who was wearing masks yielded results that varied from day to day and from business to business.

Whether in Marion or other communities around the county, Serene hasn’t seen much difference in the number of residents wearing covering.

“I honestly think the people doing it before are the same people doing it now,” she said.

Save for employees, many at Casey’s General Store have shown an aversion to wearing masks.

On the other hand, most people at Carlsons’ Grocery started wearing masks after Marion’s ordinance was enacted two weeks ago, according to employee Don Parish.

Carlsons’ owners also made it a requirement for all employees.

Dollar General has seen similar results, with most customers wearing face coverings. Not everyone has listened, however.

“They’ll say the county doesn’t require it,” one employee said. “Well, the city does.”

The chain store has its own nationwide policy requiring, and several signs about the policy are posted outside the Marion store.

While liquor store clerk Palic thinks some people need to wear masks, most customers have been respectful of others’ decisions. She had received just one complaint about someone not wearing a mask.

She thinks masks make her job more difficult because she can’t see patrons’ faces.

“If they’re wearing a mask then I don’t know how old they are,” she said. “And how do I know if their face matches their driver’s license?”

Marion police have received a few complaints about people not obeying mask orders, but most of the time they have been answering questions about masks.

Marion officers have 50 masks in each of their vehicles in case a person needs one.

While coverings are required in Marion, they remain a suggestion in Hillsboro.

Hillsboro Ampride has taken a different tactic, specifying that masks are not required but preferred.

That gives customers an easy out, one Ampride employee said, but he adds that the number of coverings worn in the business has increased in recent weeks.

A month ago, only around 20% of their customers were wearing masks, but now it’s closer to 50%, he said.

Last modified Aug. 12, 2020

 

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