No Florida Statewide Mask Mandate in Sight

By Liam Wirsansky on June 26, 2020

Face masks have been a staple since the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been at full swing in the U.S., dating back to the early days of March this year. Yet the virus continues to grow stronger as the rate of infection continues to soar in states that have not implemented executive orders requiring their citizens to wear a face mask. In Florida, record breaking numbers of cases have been announced daily, subsequently breaking the records set the day before, as only select counties and local governments have implemented policies that enforce and ensure mask requirements in businesses and restaurants.

On Wednesday, Florida again broke a new record for a single day record for reported Coronavirus cases with 5,511 additional infections reported, raising the state total to 109,014. On Thursday, more than 9,000 new cases were reported, breaking a national record. With a continual and steady increase in cases, Florida governor Ron Desantis has made no action to enforce a statewide requirement on masks despite pressure from Democratic members of Florida’s congress.

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In a press conference on Wednesday Desantis defended his stance and when asked why he had not implemented a statewide mandatory mask mandate in Florida he replied that he believes, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” He continued his argument by challenging the notion that a mandate would be a sensible consumption of state funds. “When you attach criminal penalties for something, you’ve got to enforce it. And the question is, in some of the parts of Florida is that really a good use of resources?” said Desantis.

These remarks come days after President Donald Trumps announced that he had told his administration to slow down testing in an effort to combat the staggering and rising rates of infection at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. These comments were later confirmed by him on Monday when he told a reporter that “I don’t kid, let me just tell you, let me make it clear,” when asked if he had been joking about his remarks in Tulsa.

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In an interview with CBN News he detailed his logic behind the case to slow testing down, stating “So, instead of 25 million tests, let’s say we did 10 million tests. We’d look like we were doing much better because we’d have far fewer cases…We do so much more than other countries it makes us, in a way, look bad but actually we’re doing the right thing.”

While some counties in Florida have taken the necessary steps and precautions to pass mask mandates such as, Hillsborough County and Palm Beach County, most counties continue to operate under the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s loose advise, which only recommends, but doesn’t require that restaurant workers follow CDC guidance to wear at least a cloth face covering to contain the wearer’s “respiratory droplets and help protect co-workers and members of the general public.” This inaction directly contradicts and ignores several guidelines of reducing the spread of COVID-19, laid out in a review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), which included social distancing, face masks and eye protection as strategic methods of combating the virus.

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With some states, like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut announcing that they would begin imposing two-week quarantines on visitors from states with high infection rates, Florida remains to be on the wrong side of the curve, actually being one of the states to make this list. With no immediate signs of any statewide mask mandates being imposed and a continual shift in an attitude towards normalcy from its citizens, Florida remains to be a hotbed for new infections, as it looks to be one of the new epicenters of the COVID-19 Crisis. Many studies have proven that wearing a mask does reduce the likelihood of infection, so help make a difference and save lives by encouraging those around you to wear a mask.

Governor Desantis Press Conference: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1013404849075853

President Trump CBN Interview: https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/2020/june/exclusive-interview-with-president-trump-running-against-joe-biden-and-record-number-of-pro-life-judges

 

Liam Wirsansky is a Senior at Florida State University, pursuing a double major in Theatre and Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT). He serves as the President and Artistic Director of White Mouse Theatre Productions at FSU and is also the playwright of the plays, Moonchildren and Finding a New Year.

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