DANVILLE — Ten months into the coronavirus pandemic and people in Vermilion County still are not wearing masks nor social distancing.
That’s the concern expressed by some Danville City Council aldermen at Tuesday night’s meeting, with a couple suggesting the city send letters to businesses to encourage their employees and customers to wear masks.
Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said “I did confront the (Walmart) manager about that. You can control that,” he said about employees not having masks on.
Williams said in talking to management at Menards and Walmart, some customers too will never wear masks or they take them off or don’t wear them properly when inside the stores.
The discussion on COVID-19 was on the city council agenda at the request of Ward 2 Alderman Dan Duncheon, who was not present for the meeting.
Ward 7 Alderman Bob Iverson said about seeing a recent list of church members who have COVID-19 in the community, “the list was too long.” More cases continue to come up too.
Iverson said there is hope with the vaccine, but Vermilion County continues to see hundreds of new cases each week and increased deaths.
He said he thinks Danville is at a point in the pandemic that a city mask mandate, in addition to the state mandate, or additional measures should take place to help residents. He said the city could look to assist businesses stay in business with outdoor facilities, such as heated igloos.
Iverson said support is being given to families who’ve lost their jobs, but what about support for health care costs for those who can no longer work because they have COVID-19, or for funeral expenses.
Courts have ruled the governor has the power to set regulations, he added.
He thinks there is more the city can do to control the local coronavirus disease numbers, such as enforcing the state’s no indoor dining regulation and limiting local restaurants to take-out dining only.
Iverson said it’s “hitting Danville more than we ever thought it would” and it’s “frustrating we can’t do more about it.”
Williams responded that the vast majority of new cases are from the prison.
He said he doesn’t see the difference with indoor and outdoor dining, and additional cases are coming from people getting together in private homes and through gatherings.
In audience comments, the council heard a comment from resident Cindy Parr-Barrett about the virus spreading more rapidly. She said it’s appalling city officials are encouraging defiance against state regulations. She asked the city to ensure safety of all.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Brenda Brown too asked city officials to consider where the city goes from here, with the possibility of a second strain too getting to Danville.