1/27/2021 Health Department Conference, Mayor John Dennis

West Lafayette mayor, John Dennis "kind of wanted to give a high five to [Purdue's] students and administration and their families" for coming back to campus "well-prepared" not only to get a good education, but to do so safely. 

The West Lafayette City Council voted to continue the city's mask mandate until July during its meeting Monday.

The council completed its six-month review of the ordinance, which requires face coverings in businesses and outdoor public spaces where physical distancing isn't possible. Councilors passed the ordinance, which took effect Sept. 8, after West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis' executive order requiring masks was struck down in September by a judge in Tippecanoe County. 

The mayor's order, issued in July, was deemed unconstitutional by the judge because it included monetary fines for noncompliance.

“Though we get closer to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we are not there yet,” Dennis said Monday. “Right now is the time to check off the importance of wearing a mask, keeping your face covered, and washing your hands.”

Democratic councilor David Sanders, who teaches a class about COVID-19 at Purdue, said the time hasn't arrived to alter the ordinance. 

“The vaccine and public health measures work together to suppress the pandemic," he said. "You can’t just have one without the other for them to actually work.”

As the city maintains its requirement, large states are striking down mask mandates. Despite a public health consensus that people should continue to wear face coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said it's time to “open Texas 100%."

“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules,” Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”

Dennis, a Republican, told The Exponent that variants of COVID-19 are unpredictable and their effect on society could be dire. He called governors' decisions to reopen "immature and irresponsible."

“Just because people are exhausted or feel that it’s governmental intrusion is no excuse for acting irresponsibly,” Dennis said.

“We’re standing by, we’re keeping the mask mandates, we’re making sure that we’re doing all the necessary things that are going to help us get to the eventual end," the mayor added. "We’re leading by example.”

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