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Caddo Commission agrees to vote on new mask ordinance Thursday

A visitor wearing a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19 passes a sign requiring masks, Tuesday, July 7, 2020, in San Antonio. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared masks or face coverings must be worn in public across most of the state as local officials across the state say their hospitals are becoming increasingly stretched and are in danger of becoming overrun as cases of the coronavirus surge. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SHREVEPORT, La.– Caddo Parish commissioners will vote Thursday on a proposed mask ordinance that would require businesses in unincorporated areas of the parish with 50 or more occupants to require facial coverings for all.

By a vote of 6 to 5, the commission agreed during a work session meeting Monday to place the ordinance proposed by Dist. 2 Commissioner Lyndon Johnson on the agenda for July 22.

The ordinance cites an increase in risk of infection in Caddo Parish from “moderate” to high” and notes that the governor’s order lifting the statewide mask mandate specifically gives local governments authority to enforce more restrictive measures.

Louisiana is experiencing a fourth surge of COVID-19, driven largely by the spread of the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus and lower vaccination rates.

The types of businesses this would cover include restaurants, retail establishments, hotels, grocery stores, gyms, pharmacies, indoor, recreational facilities, and vehicles for hire, among others.

Children under the age of two would be exempt and any child in a licensed daycare facility. Those who are actively exercising while following CDC guidelines for social distancing and those with certain medical conditions are also among those who would be exempt.

If passed, businesses would be responsible for coming up with a way to ensure compliance and would be subject to fines of up to $250 for the first violation and $500 for a second. Patrons and individuals who refuse to leave any premises after being asked are subject to trespassing laws, the ordinance notes.

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office and any other personnel authorized by law would be authorized to enforce the order.

Dr. Martha Whyte, the Office of Public Health Regional medical director for LDH Region 7, is also set to provide an update on COVID-19 Thursday’s meeting.

During Monday’s meeting, Dist. 9 Commissioner John Atkins opposed putting the proposed ordinance up for a vote, saying he believes education and awareness is the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Dist. 1 Commissioner Todd Hopkins also voted against the introduction of the ordinance, saying he would never support it even though he has personally been impacted by COVID-19.

Voting against the ordinance were:

Dist. 9 Commissioner John Atkins
Dist. 10 Commissioner Mario Chavez
Dist. 1 Commissioner Todd Hopkins
Dist. 11 Commissioner Ted Lazarus
Dist. 8 Commissioner Jim Taliaferro
Voting for the ordinance were:

Dist. 5 Commissioner Roy Burrell
Dist. 6 Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne
Dist. 12 Commissioner Ken Epperson
Dist. 7 Commissioner Stormy Gage-Watts
Dist. 3 Commissioner Steve Jackson
Dist. 2 Commissioner Lyndon B. Johnson

Source: ArkLaTex News 

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