Texas city requires all citizens to wear masks in public, offenders could be fined up to $1,000

Posted at 10:05 AM, Apr 06, 2020

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced a change in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that suggested all Americans wear masks in public to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But even before his announcement, the city of Laredo, Texas, had signed an ordinance requiring nearly every citizen to wear a mask when in public.

According to the emergency ordinance, all Laredo citizens over the age of 5 are required to wear a covering on their nose and mouth when entering public buildings, using public transport and pumping gas. Anyone seen not wearing a mask in public can be punished with a "Class C" misdemeanor and a fine of up to $1,000.

According to The Washington Post, the rule appears to be the first of its kind passed by a local government in the United States.

“I’d rather bury them in debt than bury them in a coffin,” city councilman George Altgelt said Tuesday.

While the border town's ordinance won praise from some health experts, others pointed out that due to a shortage, masks are currently hard to come by and might be a worthwhile purchase for many in a town where, according to The Post, nearly a third of people live near or below the poverty line.

As of Monday morning, Webb County, Texas — the county that encompasses Laredo — had seen 106 cases of the coronavirus and six deaths linked to the virus.