‘Mask of Wellness’ movement takes off in Iowa by encouraging businesses to be ‘COVID conscious’

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – The Daisy, a boutique in Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village, is glad to be able to put its “open” sign outside its door these days.

“We closed completely for nine weeks,” Lori Montgomery, a sales associate at the shop, said. “That’s a long time in the retail business, and then we opened slowly with our safety precautions.”

Now a bottle of hand sanitizer sits next to the front door for customers to use when they walk in, and staff members are masked up behind barriers at the counter.

But before customers even enter the store, they can find out The Daisy is taking these precautions because of a sticker with a masked, smiling face in its window, showing the shop is a member of the Mask of Wellness movement. The movement encourages businesses to take steps to promote health and safety as they reopen and keep their doors open during the pandemic.

“By decreasing the fear, consumers are more likely to go out, and knowing that they’re mitigating the risk — not eliminating, but mitigating the risk to consumers so we can keep society thriving,” David Krupp, an ER doctor in Iowa City, said.

Krupp co-founded Mask of Wellness in May, and since then, he said more than 500 businesses have joined in, most of them in Iowa. They’re all committed to taking three steps every day: requiring staff to wear masks, maintaining their hygiene and cleaning at their workplaces, and completing self-screenings to make sure sick employees stay home.

Businesses can sign up to become a “COVID-conscious business” for free on the Mask of Wellness website. Those businesses will receive a downloadable toolkit that includes a door cling, flyers, an employee health sign-in template, and resources for more information on workplace health and safety.

Krupp said the Mask of Wellness movement aims to promote what they’ve termed a “COVID-conscious mindset”: “Always assume you have COVID, and if we all assume we have COVID at all times and take the measures to decrease the potential spread, we can stop this pandemic.”

Describing Mask of Wellness as a “grassroots movement,” Krupp said businesses are held to the honor system to ensure they’re following through on their commitments.

“If we’re notified of a business not taking the steps, we reach out to them in a very friendly way to help educate them because again, the goal is positive, empowered grassroots to bring about change through choice and desire the change the pandemic,” Krupp said.

Krupp said the Mask of Wellness movement is still relevant in places like Iowa City, where face coverings are now legally required in public, because he said stopping the virus will take more than covering up.

“The masks are one part of it, but again, giving attention to hygiene and giving attention to any type of illness with certification,” Krupp said.

But Krupp said Mask of Wellness can make a greater difference to health in communities where masks are still optional, which includes most of Iowa.

In Cedar Rapids, where no municipal mask requirements are in place, The Daisy is strongly encouraging all its customers to wear masks in the store too.

Staff said if posting the “Mask of Wellness” sign in their window helps them keep their “open” sign out front, they’re all for it.

“For the brief time that you’re in our store, think about us, think about your other customers, think about your fellow man, and just wear a mask,” Montgomery said. “It’s an easy thing to do.”

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