It is time for the Decatur City Council to require the wearing of face coverings
The Decatur City Council will be voting on an ordinance requiring the wearing of face coverings at its next meeting on November 16. I support this ordinance. Protecting the health and safety of our residents is our number one priority and wearing a face covering saves lives.
The ordinance would require individuals to wear a face covering outside their residence, when others are present, including while shopping, picking up food, visiting a health care provider, and interacting with any other person at a place of business or worship open to the public. The ordinance also requires entities to refuse service to individuals who fail to wear a face covering. Fines for offenses will range from $50 for the first offense to $500 for four or more offenses. The proposed ordinance requiring mandatory face coverings can be found at the following link: https://decatur.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/CoverSheet.aspx?ItemID=3110&MeetingID=266
THE IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN MACON COUNTY HAS WORSENED SIGNIFICANTLY
There has been an alarming increase in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks. One month ago, on October 13, Macon County had 2,117 confirmed cases, 924 individuals in home isolation, 11 people hospitalized, and tragically, 48 deaths. On November 13, there were 4,945 confirmed cases (134% increase), 1,527 individuals in home isolation (65% increase), 31 hospitalized (182% increase), and tragically, 83 deaths (35 additional deaths in one month).
FURTHER ACTION BY THE DECATUR CITY COUNCIL IS NECESSARY AND DECATUR RESIDENTS WANT COVID-19 SAFETY GUIDELINES ENFORCED
In the absence of a vaccine, more effective treatment, and extensive testing, some of the most effective tools to stop the spread of the virus include wearing a face covering, social distancing, and frequent hand washing. Not all entities are using these three tools and thus, city government has a responsibility to act.
For many residents, an ordinance requiring face coverings is long overdue. For example, the city of Decatur conducted a COVID-19 Awareness and Impact Survey between April 22 – May 6 in which 1,688 residents responded. Based on the responses to the survey’s open-ended questions, citizens had three major concerns including “wearing masks in public be made mandatory …”, “… better enforcement of measures particularly at shops and big stores …” (such as social distancing), and “a call for a slow, calculated and monitored reopening of the economy, starting with local shops and stores.”
OTHER MORE POPULOUS CENTRAL ILLINOIS CITIES HAVE BEEN MORE EFFECTIVE AT KEEPING THEIR CITIZENS SAFE
Other more populous cities in central Illinois are doing far better at keeping their citizens safe, and the counties they are within are not in the warning level as issued by the state. These cities have acted decisively to protect their residents. In addition to requiring face coverings, the city of Decatur should more strongly enforce existing laws including instituting checks for businesses with permits and licenses, and explore incentives to entities that are and have been following COVID-19 safety guidelines.
THE DECATUR CITY COUNCIL MUST TAKE ACTION TO KEEP OUR CITIZENS SAFE
Protecting the health of our citizens and the city’s economic recovery will require citizens having assurance that the places they go are safe. I am very grateful to the many individuals and entities that are following safety guidelines and local law. When entities refuse to wear face coverings and violate safety guidelines, it can endanger public health. The city council should instill confidence that our city is and will remain safe through requirements for face coverings and greater enforcement of local laws that protect the health of Decatur residents from COVID-19.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you would like to discuss this or any other issue with a city council member, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.