Florida Sheriff Bans Deputies And Visitors From Wearing Masks
Despite a seeming consensus in the U.S. in recent weeks that masks are crucial in the fight against Covid-19, Florida’s Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods informed his employees on Tuesday that they are prohibited from wearing face coverings while on duty, and that residents that visit the sheriff’s office will be ordered to remove their masks.
Ocala (the largest city in Marion County) passed an emergency ordinance last week requiring people to wear masks inside businesses, but Mayor Kent Guinn (R) vetoed it, citing Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham’s refusal to enforce a mask mandate.
On Tuesday, both Florida (276 deaths) and Marion County (13 fatalities) set new daily records for coronavirus deaths.
That same day, Sheriff Woods sent an email to his employees declaring, “my order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn.”
“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t,” proclaimed Woods.
Officers are permitted to don masks in certain situations (such as in courthouses, public schools, or hospitals), but they are required to remove the face coverings immediately afterward.
Woods added, “effective immediately, any individual walking into any one of our lobbies that is wearing a mask will be asked to remove it,” and if they do not comply, “they will be asked to leave.”
For months, despite continual pleas from health experts, masks remained a controversial topic in the U.S, but beginning in July, there appeared to be a shift toward an increasing consensus among the citizenry related to the importance of face coverings. President Trump steadfastly refused to wear a mask from April through mid-July, but donned a face-covering in public for the first time on July 20th and called the act “patriotic.” According to ABC News, many large police departments in the U.S. only suggest officers wear masks, and, where it is mandated, it is only sporadically enforced. Over the past few months, several sheriffs in multiple states have declared that they will refuse to enforce mask mandates issued by local government officials. In western Washington, a Republican sheriff told residents, “Don’t be a sheep!” in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s order that residents must wear face coverings in public. County Commissioner Carl Zalak said he agrees with Sheriff Billy Woods’ decision and “appreciates the way he handled it.” Woods ends his email by declaring, “this is no longer a debate, nor is it up for discussion. Please keep in mind this entire pandemic is fluid and constantly changing the way things are done. However, my orders will be followed, or my actions will be swift to address.”
$1 trillion: Without a nationwide mask mandate, economic damage inflicted by future lockdowns could trim up to $1 trillion off the U.S. GDP, according to research from Goldman Sachs in June.
“I really do believe if the American public all embraced masking now . . . I really do think over the next four to six, eight weeks, we can bring this epidemic under control,” said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last month.