GRETNA — Jefferson Parish will require face masks inside businesses and public places starting Wednesday to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Officials announced the measure on Monday saying they were reacting to a rising number of cases in the area, especially among younger people.

Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng said no one will go to jail over the rule, but violations will carry fines of as much as $500.

The new rule comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the parish has been climbing steadily. Jefferson had the most cases in the state as of Monday, nola.com reported.

Lee Sheng said she hoped the proclamation will convince the parish's roughly 430,000 residents to follow the rules for wearing masks since it is the best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus, especially indoors.

"I need our community as a whole to respond to this," she said.

Jefferson Parish includes much of metro New Orleans. Neighboring Orleans Parish has a rule that masks are supposed to be worn in indoor, public spaces.

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