On Tuesday, a 17-year-old worker in Pennsylvania reportedly suffered a displaced jaw that will require surgery after asking a couple to wear masks. According to NBC News, the teen was working at Sesame Place theme park located near Philadelphia when a couple at the park attacked him for reminding them that they needed to wear masks. Middletown Township police Lt. Steve Forman told NBC “Their employees are trying to convey the message from the governor,” referring to Gov. Tom Wolf’s mask-wearing mandate. The suspects are believed to be from New York City, and Pennsylvania authorities are in contact with New York State police.
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois signed a law on Friday that expanded the felony charge of aggravated battery to include attacks against retail workers who are trying to enforce face-covering requirements like the incident in Pennsylvania. Pritzker released a statement on the bill saying “It’s clear there is still an even greater need to get people to wear masks – especially to protect front line workers, whether they’re at the front of a store asking you to put on your mask or whether they’re responding to 911 calls to save those in distress.”
While a battery charge can result in up to a year’s worth of prison time and a fine of $2,500, a felony charge carries a much more severe penalty: up to 5 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Illinois’ move comes after numerous examples, across the country, of retail workers being assaulted and terrorized by misguided and anxious anti-mask doodle heads. While right-wing faux-freedom fighters will call this move tyrannical, the reality remains that it is in the public’s best health interests to protect the frontline workers who are trying to save people from themselves.
Illinois has almost 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 7,600 people have died as a result of contracting the virus. Gov. Pritzer has mandated the wearing of masks outside the home, since the middle of July, hoping to flatten the curve and increase of cases in the Prairie State.