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As Illinois statewide mask mandate takes effect, some health officials expect little change

Monroe County Health Department is not expecting residents to adhere to face covering guidelines

MONROE COUNTY, Ill. — Referring to Governor Pritzker's recent statewide mask mandate, John Wagner with the Monroe County Health Department described it like this, "It would be no different than him telling people, 'I'm dropping the speed limit from 65 to 50, but there's going to be no enforcement on it.' How many people are actually going to drive 50 miles an hour?'"

Wagner visited a few businesses around the county and saw very "very little" change between this week and last week. He said the changes might be at large, national stores, but small businesses will likely not follow the new guidelines. 

The current statewide mask mandate says all Illinois residents must wear a mask while indoors. Pritzker is also advising people to wear masks at crowded outdoor events, like concerts and festivals. 

Unlike previous mask mandates, the current one is for everyone two years and older. 

"How you would ever keep a mask on a two-year-old?" Wagner said. "It's hard enough just trying to keep their clothes on them."

However, Dr. Kenneth Haller, a pediatrician with SluCare SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, said to not underestimate children. 

"What's really great about kids, is they want to take care of each other and they want to take care of us, they want us to stay healthy," Dr. Haller said. "Kids have gotten the message that wearing a mask is something that can keep them healthy."

RELATED: READ: Illinois mask mandate, vaccine requirements

Dr. Haller expects kids to change the tone on mask-wearing, citing some recent history.

"I am old enough to remember a car that my family had that did not have seatbelts," he said. When we got that first car with seatbelts, I was one of the kids who said mom dad wear your seatbelt.

Dr. Haller said there is a new generation pushing their parents towards safer measures.

"Another generation was a generation that said to parents, 'Mom, dad, quit smoking,'" he said. "This is a generation of kids who were saying, 'Mom, dad, please wear your mask.'"

RELATED: Grafton businesses prepare for looming Illinois mask mandate

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