MWSU professor sees masks as the key to keeping COVID-19 in check

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

A Missouri Western State University chemistry professor who
helps the St. Joseph City Council interpret coronavirus pandemic information
says masks work and are a key to reining in COVID-19.

Gary Clapp says it appears coronavirus cases have begun to
fall a bit after spiking last week. Clapp believes the broadened mask mandate
will help blunt the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s a challenge. And boy, if you don’t believe in the masks,
all you have to do is look at the numbers,” Clapp tells host Barry Birr on the
KFEQ Hotline. “When the county hit 80 or 86 or whatever the high was four weeks
ago, that was a tough, tough week for the mayor, a tough week for the city, a
tough week for the county.”

The number of new COVID-19 cases topped 80 in a single day for
the first time in late September. St. Joseph health officials reported 82 new
cases on the 6th of this month.

Clapp summarizes federal and state reports for council members
and plots the course of the coronavirus locally to aid the council as it decides
city policy. He also sits on the Missouri Western COVID-19 response team.

Clapp applauds the council’s decision to expand the mask
mandate to require it at all public places and in all businesses, large and
small.

“The plan is that if this thing’s working, those numbers will
level off and start to come down,” Clapp says.

Clapp says he have seen that, at least somewhat.

St. Joseph health officials reported 61 new cases in Buchanan
County on Monday and 58 on Tuesday. The St. Joseph Health Department reported
49 new cases on Wednesday.

Mosaic Life Care reports 64 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized
in St. Joseph as of Wednesday morning with two in Maryville.

Mosaic has now tested 38,207 area residents with just over 3,165
testing positive.

Clapp understands people want to be rid of COVID-19 and return
to normal life. He says that will happen, but when it will happen no one knows.

“Here’s my take on it. SARS was out there a few years ago and
we couldn’t stop it, we couldn’t develop a vaccine for it,” Clapp says. “However, it gave us
several platforms. COVID-19 is a SARS-type of virus. So, we had platforms that
we know had failed, but we had started. We didn’t have to start from ground
zero to develop a vaccine.”