Florida sheriff forbids staff, visitors from wearing masks - ABC News

Published by ABCNEWS.GO.COM

Summary generated on August 12, 2020

    A Florida sheriff has banned his employees and anyone visiting his offices from wearing a mask during the pandemic - a move that is sure to cause controversy as studies have shown masks reduce the risk of transmitting the novel.

    Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods wrote in an email on Aug. 11 to employees that some exceptions will be made, including at courthouses, jails, schools and hospitals.

    His comments stand in stark contrast to overwhelming medical consensus, in addition to guidance from the CDC and World Health Organization.

    The CDC recommended face masks in April, with the WHO following in June.

    Now - more than seven months into this global pandemic - experts have said enough evidence has amassed to conclude that masks are critical in mitigating COVID-19 spread. One study published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, found that wearing a mask may drop the risk of transmission from 17% to 3%. Woods' order comes as the City of Ocala, located in Marion County, is working on putting a mask mandate ordinance in place.

    Ocala City Council passed an emergency ordinance last week requiring people to wear masks inside businesses; however, Mayor Kent Guinn vetoed it Monday, according to the Ocala Star Banner.

    The city council will meet Wednesday to consider overriding the veto, the Star Banner reported.

    Florida, including Marion County, set a single-day record on Tuesday for the most deaths related to COVID-19.

    Mask-wearing among law enforcement has been less consistent than in the general public.

    An ABC News analysis found that only three of the nation's largest police departments require officers to wear masks and gloves while policing Black Lives Matter protests.

    The other six largest police departments ask, but do not mandate, that on-duty officers wear masks or gloves in public.

    In Ocala, officers are advised not to wear masks while on duty so they can clearly communicate with people they encounter, according to the Star Banner.

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