Face mask mandates continue to increase. On Friday, July 27, the Manatee County Commission is meeting to vote on an executive order that would require face coverings to be worn indoors in certain situations across the county.
If it passes, Polk and Lee counties will be the only Florida counties with more COVID-19 cases than Escambia County without a mandatory face mask ordinance.
We reported earlier that Polk County had required masks for its employees. It hasn’t the Polk County that did was in Iowa. Lee, Polk and Escambia are the only three in the top 13 Florida counties that make face covering optional for employees.
Two more governors have mandated face masks – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz (D).
The Ohio mandate begins Thursday, July 23 at 6 p.m. and requires everyone over the age of 10 to wear a mask in public places. Waltz ordered Minnesotans to wear masks at all indoor public areas beginning Saturday, July 25.
Florida has three times the cases of the two states combined.
Pinellas v. Escambia – Effectiveness of Face Masks
At his press conference on Tuesday, July 22, Gov. Ron DeSantis bragged on how Pinellas County – the state’s most populated county with 974,996 people – had lower its positivity rate over the past two weeks.
“You look at like a Pinellas County they’ve been consistently now single digits, that was not the case two weeks ago,” said DeSantis. “And so these things take time. But I think the trend is much better today than the trend was two weeks ago.”
On June 24, Pinellas County had a face mask ordinance go into effect that requires all employees at public establishments and their customers to wear face coverings while indoors.
On July 8, Pinellas had 16.1% positivity rate, but over the past two weeks, the county had its average rate drop to 8.45%. Yesterday, its rate was 6.2% for 4,334 tests.
Escambia County has no face mask order, and County Administrator Janice Gilley has refused to mandate face coverings for over 1,900 employees or visitors to county buildings.
On July 8, Escambia had 15.7% positivity rate, but over the past two weeks, the county had its average rate drop to only 12.2%. Yesterday, its rate was 13.6% for 1,546 tests.
The difference that the mandatory face mask order made is glaring. Gov. DeSantis isn’t touting Escambia County’s COVID response in his daily briefings.
Experts say to open our schools we need to get our community’s positivity rate to below 5%. Face masks will make it happened sooner.
The NY Times interviewed Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and asked why he thought some people refuse to wear masks:
“Some of them believe that it’s an infringement on their freedom. I don’t agree with that argument. We are a country of laws, and we implement laws for public safety all the time: our seatbelt laws, our stop sign laws, our red light laws. In the absence of those laws, you have lawlessness. You have disorder. You really can’t have a functional city.
“It obviously doesn’t help that our federal and state leaders have not called for any mask-in-public rule. I’ve asked our governor to implement one. He responded that a lot of the urban cities have it already, and that’s true. But I think that there’s a population within our urban cities that listen to him and the president.
“You’ve seen the president’s rhetoric changing a little bit over the last week or so. But I think it needs to go further, frankly. There’s a lot of people that will take the path of least resistance not to do something if a leader that they look up to isn’t doing, or isn’t advocating for it.”