EDWARDSVILLE — If Edwardsville City Council passes an ordinance at its next meeting, rule-defying residents could receive fines for not wearing masks starting as early as Dec. 2.
The potential fines for first-time offenders — $25 for residents and $50 for businesses — were recommended by Mayor Hal Patton, who said he drafted the ordinance because of a surge in coronavirus cases in Edwardsville and Madison County.
"We’re not trying to be punitive. We’re just trying to get compliance and support for this," Patton said via phone call Thursday. "But if it’s a repeated situation, those fines could go up significantly."
Madison County recorded a new single-day high for cases Sunday with 610. According to the health department's dashboard, the county then recorded another 610 cases Monday, 461 cases Tuesday and 279 cases Wednesday. In all, the county has recorded 11,668 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
In addition to the spike in cases, at least two hospitals near Edwardsville had no intensive care unit beds available in recent days, leading Patton to declare a state of emergency Tuesday.
The mayor wrote in the order that all residents need to wear a mask (with some exceptions), businesses must reduce to 25% capacity and grocery stores and pharmacies must reduce to 50% capacity.
As of Tuesday, 59 people in hospitals near Edwardsville were hospitalized because of COVID-19, and nurses are being transferred from surgery units to other departments to provide care for critically ill patients, according to the order.
In Missouri, Franklin County passed a similar ordinance Thursday that includes potential fines for residents who don't wear masks. Unlike Missouri, Illinois has a statewide mask mandate.
Patton said he's discussed the possible fines with the city police chief and city alderman. The Madison County State's Attorney's Office would not process any fines that are issued, the mayor said. Instead, they would be processed in a local municipal court.
The next city council meeting is set for Dec. 1.
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