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Will mask ordinance really convince skeptical Cincinnatians to mask up?

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 19:11:26-04

CINCINNATI — Jamila Jones thinks 80% of Cincinnatians will obey City Council’s new mask mandate, she said Thursday afternoon. She's been wearing her own mask around the city for a long time.

Vince Homan has less faith. Although he said he supports the order, he guessed he’d seen about 50% of people he passed that day — the first day it was in effect — wearing theirs.

“We’ve got to get on top of this, and I think everybody needs to contribute and participate in beating the (COVID-19) virus,” he said. “And this is a great way to do it. … I don’t know how they’re going to enforce it.”

Neither does the Cincinnati Health Department, according to a spokeswoman’s statement. Not exactly.

FAQ: What you need to know about Cincinnati's new mask ordinance

City law calls for CDH to enforce the mask ordinance, which is separate from Gov. Mike DeWine’s mask order for hard-hit counties, on a “complaint-driven” basis.

In theory, Cincinnatians can call the health department at 513-357-7200. to report noncompliance, and sanitarians will arrive to offer the noncompliant person the choice of wearing a mask or receiving a $25 fine.

However, the department spokeswoman said enforcement procedures had not been finalized by Thursday night. Health workers are still waiting to learn more about how DeWine’s order, which affects Hamilton County, will interact with City Council’s.

Health department officials have also not shared how many sanitarians will be on call to respond to Cincinnatians’ reports.

“I just hope everyone else is on the same page,” Jones said.

She added she was concerned about the $25 fine, which she worried wouldn't be enough to create an incentive for otherwise-unwilling people to wear masks.

“$25 is not really… anyone can rack up a whole $25 ticket and let it go," she said. "I mean, people let parking tickets go every day.”

Wendy Jean Bennett, another Cincinnatian, said she’d seen plenty of people wearing masks on the street. There was just one problem: They’d pulled them all the way down to their chins.