Florida sheriff bans masks for deputies with some exceptions

Florida sheriff bans masks for deputies with some exceptions



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A central Florida sheriff says his deputies won’t be allowed to wear face masks except under some conditions, and neither will visitors to the sheriff’s office.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said in an email to staff that he had weighed both sides of the issue amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Now, I can already hear the whining and just so you know I did not make this decision easily and I have weighed it out for the past 2 weeks,” Woods said in the message earlier this week.

He added, “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.”

In July, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Americans to wear masks against the virus. “There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others,” the CDC had said.

On Wednesday, Florida reported 213 new coronavirus deaths. That brought its overall fatality total to 8,898 and its average daily deaths over the past week to 164. That’s down from the state’s peak rate of daily deaths of 185 a week ago. The peak rate for New York — a state of comparable population — was more than 760 in mid-April.

Also Wednesday, there were more than 8,100 new infections reported in Florida, for a total of 550,000 known cases in the state since the start of the pandemic.

The number of people treated in Florida hospitals for the virus continued a three-week downward trend, standing at 6,538 by late morning Wednesday — down from highs of more than 9,500.

Woods, the Marion County sheriff, said exceptions to his mask prohibition will be made...

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