Illinois business and healthcare coalition encourages using face masks to stop spread of COVID-19

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 5:46 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - In a joint move by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, the initiative hopes to save lives and protect jobs.

"The wearing of a facial covering is really the one effective means of helping to interrupt the transmission of COVID. And I think everyone now has come to agree with that and so we're simply encouraging that to continue," said IRMA President & CEO Rob Karr.

Covering every type and size of retailer, from restaurants to bowling alleys, the president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association says the work to keep its members safe starts from the ground up.

"We really cover the gamut when you think about retail, and so that's who we work with on a day in and day out basis. In this case, we have been encouraging our retailers to encourage their customers," said Karr.

For local businesses, like Rascals Bar and Grill in Loves Park, wearing a mask may be an inconvenience for patrons. But, for bartender and manager Susan Johnson, the need to enforce it is bigger than any sale she could make.

"It's my personal choice to wear it, it is to protect me. I have a daughter at home who's immunocompromised. So, it's not only for my wellbeing, it's also for my daughter's wellbeing," said Johnson.

While businesses begin to recover from the financial impact of COVID-19, Johnson says compassion is key.

"We work in an industry where we're around so many people and just be kind. Just be kind," said Johnson.

Karr says wearing a mask is a small act that can mean the difference between getting the economy back on track and losing all the progress that Illinois has made so far.

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