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West Plains Leaders Join Together for “Mask Up Ozarks” Campaign

For immediate release                                                                                                                Kim Wood September 3, 2020                                                                Digital & Media Relations Specialist

West Plains Leaders Join Together for “Mask Up Ozarks” Campaign

WEST PLAINS, Mo – Community leaders are banding together in a regional campaign encouraging healthy behaviors from citizens as COVID-19 continues to affect our community.

The initiative called “Mask Up Ozarks” is comprised of representatives from 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.

The coalition believes that how we continue to overcome this pandemic will be through the unified effort. The goal of the campaign is that as a unified message spreads, the region will move closer to a new set of “normal” behaviors in shared spaces.  The campaign will provide resources to educate citizens as well as help businesses assure customers that their business is safe to visit, supporting a recovery that lasts.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention states that the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The organization also provides tips to avoid exposure including hand hygiene, avoid close contact by staying six feet apart, cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and monitor your health daily. For more information about CDC recommendations, visit

The “Mask Up Ozarks” initiative focuses on wearing a mask as a way to help flatten the curve and slow the spread. The coalition is asking southern Missourians to focus on what they can do to help keep our communities safe.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 has to be a community effort and we are relying on everyone to do their part.  I believe we are all in agreement that we would like to see life return to the way it was before the pandemic, as quickly as possible,” said Howell County Health Department Administrator Chris Gilliam. “Masking is one thing we can all do to reduce the amount of time it will take to be able to return to a more normal way of life.”

The City of West Plains is under an Emergency Declaration Order until December 31, 2020. Under this order all individuals in the City of West Plains are strongly encouraged to adhere to social distancing recommendations, wear a face mask when in public, and to adhere to proper hygiene, including frequent hand washing.

“I believe that educating people the reasons for wearing face coverings are much better than mandating their use,” said Mayor Jack Pahlmann.

Keeping the local economy open depends on people staying healthy.  If everyone can do their part to create a safe environment to eat, shop, learn, and play, the community will get through this together.

“As an educational institution, we are committed to providing the information to our students that will enhance their lives and careers. Mask Up Ozarks seeks to do the same thing, by providing the most recent science-based knowledge to assist all of us as we safely but actively live our lives during this pandemic,” said Interim Chancellor Dennis Lancaster.

“With no known vaccine or cure, we must combat this virus and slow its spread by continuing to practice handwashing, social distancing, and masking,” said Dr. William McGee, Ozarks Medical Center Chief Medical Officer. “We all need to prioritize the safety of our community above our inconvenience.”

The total number of positive COVID-19 cases as of August 31 reached 284 with 88 being active. While the known positive cases, has reached 0.7 percent, the rate of increase since the beginning of August is 106 percent. Cities in the U.S. hit a surge in the first and second quarters of 2020, rural America is seeing the surge now.

Ozarks Medical Center will be handing out 2,000 free cloth masks on Friday, September 4 through the OMC Pharmacy drive-thru located in the Parkway Center at 1211 Porter Wagoner Blvd.

“Mask Up Ozarks” is a public service campaign created by a coalition of organizations working to support the region’s recovery.  If you would like to learn more about the initiative including how you can participate, please visit


Visit for more information about how you can spread positivity.

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