The City of Winchester is urging residents to wear masks in public, while contemplating an ordinance that would allow fines to be assessed if certain residents do not follow directions from the health department.
The Winchester City Council passed a resolution urging residents of the city to wear face coverings while in public as cases continue to rise in Scott County.
The Council met in special session Monday after additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed by the Scott County Health Department, including one case that forced Winchester Schools to move to all remote learning just three days into the new school year.
Scott County was the last county in the state to have a confirmed case of the virus, and Winchester Mayor Rex McIntire says he is afraid that could have led to a false sense of security among residents. He says the resolution is intended to remind residents to think of the health and safety of others when they are out in public.
“People should wear a mask when they are around others, especially indoors in the businesses, and show courtesy and respect to others. Even though it might not be your opinion that the masks are the right way to go, for a lot of people they are. People believe in them, and we just want to show courtesy and respect for other members of our community.”
As of Monday Scott County had a total of 41 confirmed cases, which McIntire says is a large increase given the smaller population in the County. He says residents who are age 55 and older, make up 42% of the population in Winchester.
McIntire says the City Council is also considering fining residents who do not follow guidance from the health department, potentially putting other residents in danger.
“If people are confirmed with the COVID-19 and yet they are still out exposing other people- that’s what we are upset about, we don’t want that going on. We are going to try and create an ordinance that we can actually cite people and eventually fine them if they disregard the quarantine from the County Health Department.”
The City Council agreed unanimously during the meeting to have City Attorney John Paul Coonrod draw up the ordinance. McIntire says at the meeting a fine amount of $200.00 was discussed, and he says the city may go higher than that to make sure people who are positive with the virus get the message.
He says the city still has several old ordinances with fines of $15.00 and $25.00, that residents don’t always look at as a deterrent because of the small dollar amount.
McIntire says he hopes residents of Winchester and Scott County as a whole, take the virus more serious moving forward.
“This thing isn’t over yet, and I’m concerned on two levels. One, I’m concerned about the health and well being of our community and our citizens. But I am also worried about the economic impact if we get rolled back to another shut down like we had before from the Governor. There were a lot of businesses that suffered then and some of them might not survive this trip.”
Alderman Lawrence Coultas told the Scott County Times Monday that he roughly figured the city lost approximately $25,000 in revenue during the first three months of the shut down, and it is his feeling that the city couldn’t handle another one.
McIntire says Winchester is close to having almost all of the downtown retail spaces full again, and he hopes residents will think about the health of others and the fates of their local businesses and take the extra precautions to stop the spread of the virus.
The Winchester City Council will meet next Wednesday, September 2nd in regular session and will further discuss the ordinance.