JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. ( -- People took to the streets on Tuesday as members of the Jefferson County Health Department Board of Trustees were debating enacting a mask mandate in the county to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Two groups of people gathered in Hillsboro outside the health department: one in favor of wearing masks and another against them, or at least against being made to wear a mask. 

Protesters took turns and went inside in hopes of swaying the board on its vote. Anti-mask people said they doubted the science, the numbers and the efficacy of masks. Pro-mask residents want people to be considerate of everybody's health and not be self-centered. 

A total of 1,211 people have tested positive for the novel virus in the county and 25 people have died. Arnold carries the most cases out of the county's zip codes with 192 cases. 

According to the health department, the increase in cases is more than just an increase in testing. The percentage of tests coming back positive has risen from 5% a few months to 7%. Most of the increase is among people in their 20s. 

"We're seeing a higher percentage of the people who test positive," Dennis Diehl said, the chairperson of the board. "We're concerned that represents there is an increase in transmission going on."

Protesters were adamantly opposed to being told they have to mask up. 

"At the end of the day I don't want anything to be mandated. I don't want masks to be mandated," Meaghan Hagen said. "When the COVID-19 vaccine comes out I don't want it mandated."

The board opted not to vote on a mandate at their meeting Tuesday.

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