Naperville considering mandatory mask mandate to fight rising COVID-19 cases

Evelyn Holmes Image
Friday, November 20, 2020
Naperville considering mandatory mask mandate
Naperville is considering a mandate to make masks mandatory in public places to fight rising COVID-19 cases.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- Naperville is considering a mandate to make masks mandatory in public places to fight rising COVID-19 cases.

RELATED: Illinois reports 14,612 new coronavirus cases, 168 deaths; more than 6K hospitalized

The state surpassed 6,000 people in Illinois hospitals on Thursday, a new record and nearly double the number at the start of the month.

Naperville resident Ken Jacobs says a local citywide mask mandate is just a bad idea for the town he calls home.

"This is Naperville. You walk down the street, people are going to wear a mask just out of courtesy," Jacobs said. "A mandate on top of it I think is maybe kind of frivolous. I'd rather see signs and reminders, and maybe some free masks out here."

His objections come as city officials in the western suburb look to respond to a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in Illinois by considering whether to localize the state's existing mask mandate.

"We need to look at the reality of putting an ordinance in place and how a municipality goes about that," said Linda LaCroche, communications manager for the City of Naperville. "We're going to look at other municipalities that have done it."

That includes Des Plaines and Buffalo Grove, according to city officials.

After consistently rejecting the idea, a spokesperson said officials in Naperville are currently researching the plan, including how it would be different from the state mandate in place since May, as well as how it would be enforced and applied.

"I think the only way we're going to be able to fight this virus and be successful is if everybody contributes and does their part," Naperville resident Jessie Marsala said.

For safety reasons, city buildings in Naperville are closed to the public until the end of next month, but city business continues.

City leaders have also created a series of PSAs promoting the wearing of face coverings. And while it's expected any proposed local mask mandate will be controversial, some council members say the concept is worth exploring.

"In order for us to get through this, we all just need to be in the same sheet of music," said Dr. Benny White, a Naperville city council member. "I think we need to put more emphasis on wearing those masks to get through this phase."

City officials are reminding everyone this is just an idea which they will address once again at their next city council meeting on December 1.