Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD - The Roosevelt Community Recreation Center will ease mask requirements at its facility on Monday, April 12, in response to a recommendation from the Fairfield Park and Rec Advisory Board.
The board met Monday and recommended the rec center revise its mandatory mask policy so that masks would only be required in the lobby and in the weight room until it gets two air purifiers.
Terry Cochran, advisory board chair, said the board noted at its March meeting that it wanted to wait until at least half of people in the county aged 65 and older were vaccinated before lifting some mask restrictions in the rec center. He said the board was made aware the county had passed the 50 percent threshold before its April 5 meeting, so the board members felt comfortable revising the mask policy.
Staff at the rec center will continue to be required to wear masks. Areas where masks will not be required after April 12 include the track and the exercise equipment around it. Cochran said the weight room is in the old Roosevelt school, which uses steam heat and its air does not circulate as well as the rest of the facility. He said constant air circulation makes a big difference in how easily COVID-19 can be transmitted.
Park and rec director Calvin Todd is ordering a second HEPA filter for the weight room, and once that arrives, the weight room will not require masks. Masks have not been required for patrons using the indoor pool. Cochran said the transmissibility of the virus in the pool is low because the products used to sanitize the water kill viruses.
The mask policy at the rec center has been the subject of intense debate at recent city council meetings. The council’s meeting on March 8 saw a few dozen people pack the council chambers to listen to the discussion where Cochran and Todd spoke about the rec center’s policy of requiring masks and how it planned to keep that in place until half of the county’s senior citizens had been vaccinated.
The March 22 city council meeting was moved to the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center for a public forum on the rec center’s mask policy. Members of the public took turns at the microphone giving reasons why they either supported or opposed the policy. A few days later, YouTube suspended the account of the Fairfield Media Center, which had livestreamed the meeting, which YouTube also removed. YouTube claimed it was suspending the account because the meeting contained misleading information about COVID-19. Fairfield Media Center’s YouTube account was restored a week later.