Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis is asking residents to call the non-emergency police number if they spot large gatherings defying the governor's extended stay-at-home order.
Ardis said he's heard of volleyball games, backyard parties, and other crowded events happening as the weather warms up.
"We've already seen numbers rise in our country, and we once again ask every single resident do what they can," he said. "Let there be no mistake - people will die in Peoria because of COVID-19. It's not a scare tactic, it's the truth. It's very serious."
Ardis said an officer can be sent out to a large gathering "when practical" to remind people of the governor's stay-at-home order, which limits gatherings to 10 people or less per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. The number is 673-4521.
Employees from Public Works, Community Development, and other city departments are also authorized to remind people of the order if they see large gatherings cropping up around town.
The order has also closed bars, dine-in restaurants, hair salons, and other businesses deemed non-essential.
As of Tuesday, the Tri-County region had 16 confirmed cases. Statewide, there were 937 new cases and 26 more deaths since Monday.
"As the weather gets nicer, we know it's tempting to want to go outside and do things together, but we're asking that you make choices that are good for the community and for each other," the mayor said. "Keep those safe distances."
Peoria City/County Health Department administrator Monica Hendrickson also said it's important for parents to educate their kids about the importance of staying at home right now - instead of going outside to socialize, even while wearing face masks or gloves.
"Really try to educate them and inform them that they might have a really mild case of this illness, but again, realizing that their neighbor, their grandparent, someone else in their family, might become that critical patient, and really talk to them about what it means to stay at home," she said.
Schools were ordered to use remote learning plans until further notice over the weekend.
Ardis said local officials want to avoid if possible measures like Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's order last week closing the city's parks, trails, and lakefront after people ignored the stay-at-home order.
Though the park district is a separate government entity in Peoria, an emergency powers ordinance passed by the City Council last week temporarily allows Ardis to set curfews or take other measures.
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