EDITOR’S NOTE: In response to a story that was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week entitled “COVID-19 comes to Cuba, Mo., and hardly anyone is wearing a mask,” Cuba Mayor Cody Leathers sent the following response to the newspaper.
Thank you very much for your article about COVID-19 in our community. I hope your time here felt welcoming and was enjoyable. My name is Cody Leathers, and I am the mayor of our respective city.
I certainly found a lot of truth in reading your article. There are not many individuals in our community that support wearing masks, or any sort of mask mandate. Some local businesses have implemented their own rules, and this is something that I highly encourage.
However, as you know, there is not any state mandate regarding the use of masks, nor is there any countywide mandate in Crawford County, where we reside. Throughout this long process that is COVID-19, we have done many things in our community to take precautions.
In the beginning, nearly every single restaurant in our community closed their doors. Our gas station cafes and soda machines were shut down. City employees worked split shifts, but still received full pay, in order to prevent the whole city from shutting down and not being available to our citizens. Schools closed to end the year. Students, athletes, and club members missed out on many opportunities due to this, some of which they will never get back.
As things slowly reopened, some businesses still practiced extra caution. Our McDonald’s lobby remained closed, Walmart still requires masks for entry, city hall has a mandatory mask mandate. The public may enter the building, masks and sanitizers are provided, glass is kept between the citizens and the staff.
Council meetings are limited to essential staff only, with public welcome if they are on the agenda. Masks must be worn upon entering and exiting, and anytime when six feet of distance cannot be maintained. The city has also stopped charging any fees for paying utility bills online or over the phone with a credit or debit card.
There have been many guidelines set in the community, without there being a state or county mandate.
We proudly have 26 major manufacturers in Cuba, Missouri, who all felt the impact of COVID-19, and suffered some sort of atrophy in one way or another. We have lost zero industry as a result of this. Our community, citizens, employers, and employees all worked effortlessly together and have prevailed thus far.
Local banks processed all available PPP (loan requests) in record time, keeping pay checks coming and dinner on the table for countless families. We are proud of who we are and proud of what we can and will continue to accomplish.
With this, during a major world pandemic, the known dangers, Cuba remained open to business to any and all individuals passing through traveling state to state on the interstate and remained open to any and all individuals who were planning summer getaways to our many river camping and floating businesses. All campgrounds had record turnout. Everyone was booked the entire summer. Families who were tired of quarantine, unable to fly or travel great distances, rushed to our community by the thousands.
These were not immediately local people renting these camping spaces and planning these float trips. They were individuals from St. Louis, Illinois, Kansas City, among many others. Were all of these people coming to our community wearing masks? Absolutely not. Was there any danger to our community and the essential workers who diligently worked to accommodate all of these travelers? Absolutely.
But we remained open. We accommodated. We offered our community to families so that they may have a sense of normalcy, and a sense of togetherness. This is what we do in small towns. We have a strong beating heart. We help our neighbors. We help our friends. We believe in freedom, especially personal freedom.
We do not get tied up in political policy, or biased media’s. We will continue to work tirelessly to make Cuba a great place to work, live, raise a family, attend school, practice religion, and whatever else we deem fit. Thank you very much, and God Bless.
Cody L Leathers
Mayor, City of Cuba