Anti-mask activists rally in virus hotbed Florida
"Don't shut her down!
Don't shut her down!" Anti-mask activists in Florida over the weekend took their campaign to this grilled cheese bar in Windermere - a town just outside Orlando - where the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco served the owner with a warning.
"Are you taking this woman's alcohol license from her today?" "This is America!" "This is the United States!" "We are not a Communist nation!" "This is not Communist China!" 33 & Melt has become a focal point of tension since owner Carrie Hudson said she would not require customers to wear masks, after county officials mandated the use of masks in public.
These anti-mask activists organized the gathering at 33 & Melt, with a promise of 100 free meals for customers who come without any masks.
"All she is doing is standing up for the rights of people to make their own medical decisions." The demonstration here highlighted one major challenge Florida and other states face, as coronavirus cases soar in the U.S. Florida reported more than 15,000 new cases in just 24 hours on Sunday, breaking New York's record of close to 13,000 new cases on April 10.
Florida's record spike was reported a day after Walt Disney World in Orlando reopened with a limited number of guests, who were required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked.
But about 12 miles away from the theme park, these activists say wearing a mask infringes upon their individual freedom.
"How I view it is, everyone's health care decisions are their own." But the country's top public health officials have urged the use of masks to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 135,000 Americans.
In addition to the record number of new cases in Florida on Sunday, more than four dozen hospitals in Florida reported that their intensive care units are completely full due to a surge in COVID-19 patients.