Ohio County Sets Up Mask Violation Hotline

A man wearing a mask walks past "The Music Emporium," during the coronavirus pandemic on May 6, 2020, in Cleveland.

A man wearing a mask walks past "The Music Emporium," during the coronavirus pandemic on May 6, 2020, in Cleveland. AP Photo


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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Florida coronavirus cases top one-day high for a single state … Seattle City Council majority pledges to support 50% cut to police department … South Carolina county could report 4,000 missing school Chromebooks to police.

People or businesses violating Ohio’s mask order could find themselves reported to a hotline in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland. County workers will contact the violators and tell them a complaint was filed, County Executive Armond Budish told Cleveland.com. The goal is to encourage voluntary compliance with masks to help limit Covid-19 spread, but people or businesses that receive multiple complaints could be reported to law enforcement. “This is not intended to be going out and finding people not wearing masks. We want people to wear their masks… We want people to do it voluntarily,” Budish said. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s health department issued the order requiring masks in 12 counties with surging caseloads (which are those the state declared to be in the “red zone” of “very high exposure and spread”), giving local authorities starting the responsibility of enforcing the requirement and establishing that it could be a misdemeanor violation. But DeWine, too, emphasized he didn’t expect a lot of law enforcement response. “We’re not looking to see a lot of people arrested. That’s not the idea at all. The idea is this is the norm. This is what is needed for Ohioans to stay safe,” the governor said. The Columbus Dispatch newspaper on Saturday in a front-page editorial urged DeWine to expand his order to require masks across the entire state, saying it is a prudent move that would ensure the state doesn’t turn into the next Florida or Texas. “It’s unfair to shift your responsibility for mandating masks to mayors and city councils and shopkeepers in counties that haven’t hit the red zone yet,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. [Cleveland.com; Columbus Dispatch; WKBN]  

FLORIDA CASES | The number of coronavirus cases reached a one-day high for any state on Sunday with Florida reporting 15,300 positive test results. The previous record was the 12,274 cases in New York on April 4. As of Sunday morning, there were 269,811 cases tracked by the state’s health department and 4,242 deaths. [Miami Herald; Tampa Bay Times]

DEFUND THE POLICE | A veto-proof majority of the Seattle City Council pledged to support a proposal to cut funding to the city’s police department by 50% and reinvest that money into community services like housing programs. Angélica Cházaro, a University of Washington law professor and an organizer with Decriminalize Seattle, said the proposal is “about spending the money that is currently used on police on things like free and universal health care, food, child care, and [things] that would prevent property crime more than anything else.” Mayor Jenny Durkan, who had offered her own $20 million cut to the police budget, has said she doesn’t support the proposal. [Seattle Times]

MISSING CHROMEBOOKS | A county in South Carolina plans to report families who haven’t returned school Chromebooks to the police. The Greenville County Schools reports that almost 4,000 of the machines are missing. [Post and Courier]

POLICE OVERSIGHT | Following a series of hearings about the New York City Police Department’s handling of recent protests, state Attorney General Letitia James recommended that the power to appoint a police commissioner and oversee hiring and firing of officers should be taken from the mayor and given to an independent panel. “It is impossible to deny that many New Yorkers have lost faith in law enforcement. I believe we need to bridge the undeniable divide between police and the public,” she said. [New York Times]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.

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