Whether to open Rush City Hall to in-person gatherings was debated during the Rush City Council meeting on March 18.

Rush City mayor Dan Dahlberg said he’d like to see City Hall open.

“At least offer the option of a hybrid meeting,” Dahlberg said. “Some at City Hall, and if someone does want to (be at City Hall) they can be online. … We have the computer setup. We have everything. We should be in good shape there.”

Council Member Frank Storm inquired about the status of COVID-19 vaccinations within the city staff and members of the council.

“I don’t think you need to know our health history,” Dahlberg responded.

“If you want to hold an open meeting, I think it’s important,” Storm replied.

“Well, I don’t believe that it is. I mean, I haven’t had my shot,” Dahlberg said. “There’s a lot of other situations where people have been working for a year without shots. I mean, social distancing, and masks. The (vaccines) haven’t been approved by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). It’s still in testing and so no one can require it right now.”

The FDA has authorized Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use. Currently, all three vaccines are in clinical trial. The FDA expects COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers permitted emergency use to obtain additional safety and effectiveness information and pursue approval (licensure), according to the government website.

City Administrator Amy Mell said she hasn’t asked city employees about their intentions of receiving the vaccines.

“I don’t know technically that I can other than if they’re willing to just tell me that,” she explained. “I am very open in saying that I do want to get the shot. I have not been able to yet. I don’t meet any of the qualifications yet.”

Council Member Dan Meyer said the goal of the council should be to open up and hold in-person meetings as an option eventually.

“But maybe as a hybrid,” Meyer explained. “Just if we force people in -- this is my opinion -- if we force people back in before they have the opportunity to get vaccinated, that might cause more harm than good. … So it might be prudent for us to wait just at least a few more weeks.”

Dahlberg agreed, allowing the option for in-person and hybrid meetings, he added.

“I don’t want to put someone out of their comfort zone, if they don’t feel comfortable,” Dahlberg said.

Dahlberg wants people who may have a question to have the opportunity to speak with him face-to-face, he said.

“The whole meeting structure … just feels weird,” Dahlberg said about the council meetings taking place on Zoom for the past few months.

Dahlberg asked the council to review the COVID-19 status and vaccinations every month during their regular meetings to watch for progress.

Council Member Michael Louzek said the best time to open the City Hall for meetings is when most people will have had the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“And we can concern ourselves with people that have decided for whatever reason to not get the vaccine because it’s never going to be 100%,” Louzek said.

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