Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard issued a call for local residents to wear masks and abide by COVID-19 restrictions in his Welcome Back address to Illinois College students on Friday. The plea came after Morgan County was added to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 warning list.
Ezard commended local teachers and school administration for helping get students back in the classroom: “Thus far, you have persevered during this pandemic and I know you will continue to do so. The city and county have been working closely with your schools’ leadership, your teachers and personnel. Let me tell you, they have done a fantastic job and we really appreciate their efforts. Thank you parents and family members for your patience. We will need that to continue, but we really appreciate the patience that you have had since the end of last year and now the beginning of our new school year.”
Ezard said that it is time for the local community to take care of each other like it has frequently done in the past: “Jacksonville residents have always relied on each other, and we need that more than ever right now. Please wear a mask. Please socially distance. Opt for take out or delivery, curbside service, or outdoor seating. The words ‘We are all in this together’ have never meant more. As members of our community, we must work together to keep our schools open.”
Ezard and the Jacksonville City Council were criticized at their August 24th meeting for not publicly setting an example or asking the public to adhere to updated COVID-19 restrictions. Three concerned citizens, two of which were local business owners, asked for the council and Ezard to encourage a greater response from the local community in regards to wearing masks publicly. Ezard had previously said that he believed the community was doing a good job of mitigating spread of the virus. Ezard has said that any kind of enhanced enforcement mechanism, like a local ordinance, is reliant on the city council’s wishes.
The full message can be viewed on the Jacksonville/Morgan County Emergency Management Office’s Facebook Page.