West Chester, Pa. Enforcing Mask Fine as COVID numbers rise

WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The borough of West Chester is already enforcing the executive order that its mayor announced on Friday.

"I saw police enforcing it on Saturday," said Chester County Health Department Director Jeanne Casner.

Mayor Dianne Herrin declared a state of emergency on Friday after noticing a surprising spike in COVID cases.

"Over the past 30 days in the Borough of West Chester, we have had nearly doubling up reported infections compared to the entire prior six month period," said Herrin.

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Chester County Health Department stats show that 68% of the new cases were in people ages 18-22.

Many of them live in rental properties near West Chester University. Still, the school, which is more than 90% virtual, says students can't shoulder all the blame.

"There might be a minority of students in pockets," said Dr. Zebulun Davenport, West Chester Univ. V.P. of Student Affairs, "but the students here at West Chester... are concerned about their health and safety as well as their classmates' health and safety."

From students to senior citizens, everyone in West Chester is now required to wear a mask in all businesses and public places. There are exceptions for people with disabilities and those who can't wear masks for medical, work or religious reasons.

Masks are not required while sitting at a restaurant table and eating.

"If you cannot maintain a social distance of six feet or more, you need to wear a mask," said Herrin.

Anyone who is caught without a mask faces a $300 fine. Police are responsible for issuing the citations.

"That is the maximum allowable fine under our local law," said Herrin.

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The same fine also applies to anyone caught at a gathering with more than ten people, which is also banned under the executive order.

"For us it's about not being masked and high contact individuals who don't know," said Casner.

The executive order comes as 672 new cases of COVID were reported in Pennsylvania as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of cases in Pennsylvania stands at 164,207.

The state of emergency in West Chester is set to expire on Thursday unless the mayor decides to extend it.

The borough council could also decide to amend or extend the order, though doing so would require a public meeting.
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