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Butler County presiding commissioner on coronavirus: ‘It’s a tough situation’


Butler County Presiding Commissioner Vince Lampe said the state’s focus on local control during the COVID-19 pandemic gave communities the ability to address their individual issues. 

“There have been other counties that have put mask mandates on, and their numbers went down, I just don’t think we have the right to tell people they have to wear masks,” Lampe said. “We’re a small county with no ordinances, so once you pass something like a mask mandate, who’s going to enforce that? … If you feel the need to wear a mask, wear a mask.”

Lampe said a total shutdown in his county was unlikely, but he and other local officials would do their best to keep the community safe during the pandemic. 

“If the buck stops here, we’ll do the best we can,” Lampe said. “The governor has put health departments in charge of this, and that’s where it is right now. Gov. Parson has made it plain and simple — I’ve talked to his people about several issues and they’ve always come back with a reply and tried to help when possible.” 

Lampe spoke with The Missouri Times Wednesday from Butler County seat Poplar Bluff, discussing business, elections, COVID-19 vaccines, the holidays, and other counties’ approaches to the pandemic.

“It’s a tough situation,” he said. “When something like this happens, everybody’s there — you’ve got an uphill battle any way you go about it. I don’t think you could ever pass a mask mandate in Poplar Bluff; in St. Louis, they’re more condensed and they have more instances of contact and spreading than we do in an area like this.” 

Watch the full interview below, or listen to the podcast version here or via iTunes.