NA Phipps

Greg Phipps

NEW ALBANY — A resolution requesting residents wear face coverings in public spaces is on the New Albany City Council docket for Thursday’s meeting.

Councilman Greg Phipps is sponsoring the measure, which is non-binding and doesn’t include any fines or penalties for those who do not wear face coverings.

Phipps said last week he intended to bring the resolution forward and had received multiple phone calls from constituents requesting either a resolution or ordinance be brought forward for council consideration.

“I think it sets an example. It’s the city council on record saying we support something in the interest of public health and safety,” Phipps said.

New Albany resident Jessica Smith wants the city to go a step further than a resolution.

“While I’m happy that you are considering a resolution, a mask ordinance is what is needed,” Smith wrote in an email to council members and New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan.

“Gov. Holcomb is already recommending that people wear masks. Hoosiers aren’t listening.”

Smith said she also sent a similar email to the Floyd County Commissioners. She points to the New Albany-Floyd County Schools’ requirement that students wear masks when they return to classes.

“It’s important that we act as role models to our children and send the message that wearing a mask is the safest, most responsible way to protect our community and loved ones,” Smith said. “Opening our county and city to Stage 5 without a mask ordinance is irresponsible, dangerous, and could create a surge in new COVID-19 cases.”

Gahan said last week he’s a supporter of wearing face coverings in public and that he backs Phipps’ resolution.

Last Friday, a mask mandate issued by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear went into effect.

Marion, Elkhart, LaGrange and St. Joseph counties in Indiana also have orders requiring face coverings in public spaces.

Mayor John Dennis of West Lafayette, where the main campus of Purdue University is located, announced Monday an immediate requirement that face coverings be worn inside all places of business open to the public, all city facilities, public transportation and high-density workplaces.

A mask requirement announced by Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is scheduled to take effect Wednesday. Winnecke pointed to consecutive days of Vanderburgh County recording its highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections when he announced the mandate Friday.Phipps’ resolution states that cloth face coverings have been recommended for use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help stop the spread of COVID-19. It also states that new cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. have hit record highs in recent weeks.

On Sunday, Florida reported a record-high of more than 15,000 new cases of COVID-19.

The council is slated to meet in-person Thursday. In order to follow social distancing guidelines, the council meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Silver Street Park. Doors will open to the public at 6:30 p.m., and those who attend will be required to wear a face covering.

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