A group of doctors is pushing to have Florida face mask made mandatory for the public. With the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases in the state, physicians want Gov. Ron DeSantis to create an executive order requiring residents to wear face coverings. Some counties have already taken steps by passing their own local measures.
"You may not like wearing a mask, but it beats wearing a ventilator," Dr. Ron Saff, a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, told News 4 Jax.
As the Florida arm for the national group, this chapter advocates that masks can reduce the spread of the highly infectious disease and ask that DeSantis make them a requirement. However, a handful of counties are not waiting and are already mandating masks in their public spaces.
Monroe County has recently passed a mandate that will enforce the coverings to be "worn in business establishments and other public settings where there is a roof overhead."
While Key West and other cities in the area can define their requirements, the ordinance will apply to businesses and patrons, with some exceptions for eating and drinking in a restaurant or bar, exercising in a gym, and children under the age of six years old.
In St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced that all businesses must enforce the wearing of face coverings by employees.
"We have a choice, St. Pete. We can suffer the short term inconveniences, and put the worst of this virus behind us, or we can suffer indefinitely, in fits and starts," he said.
Facial Coverings Required In Public Places in Monroe County #floridakeys #covid19 #facialcoverings https://t.co/QvbEU9uh6K via @Nextdoor— Monroe County BOCC (@Monroe County BOCC)1592429296.0
There has been some pushback around the state. Osceola County in Central Florida removed criminal penalties for non-compliance with their ordinance after facing backlash from residents. In Palm Beach, commissioners voted "no" on making face masks mandatory.
Gov. DeSantis has even shown opposition to the idea.
WATCH LIVE: Press Conference Regarding #COVID19 in Tallahassee https://t.co/ADqP4JVudu— Ron DeSantis (@Ron DeSantis)1592341354.0
During a press conference on Tuesday, he rejected the idea of passing a law.
"I just don't think that that's a reasonable thing," he said. "In terms of forcing that under penalty of criminal law, you know, we're not going to be doing that."
*Photo used for illustrative purposes.