ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As Florida counties and cities begin to issue their own mandatory mask mandates, 13 Florida lawmakers are urging the governor to issue one statewide.
The effort to get Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue an immediate statewide order requiring all individuals to wear masks in public is being spearheaded by Democratic Congresswomen Donna Shalala (FL-27) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23).
Their reasoning? The constant rate in which coronavirus cases are being reported over the last few days.
The Florida Department of Health on Wednesday reported another 5,508 new cases of COVID-19 in the state making it the highest single-day record for new cases in Florida since testing began.
The previous record was the state's report from Saturday, June 20, with 4,049 cases.
“As positive cases surge and hospitalizations increase, it is imperative that you take data-driven action to help protect Floridians, our families, and our communities from the dangers of COVID-19,” the Members wrote to DeSantis in a letter sent Tuesday.
The group also highlighted that their ask falls in line with recommendations by the Florida surgeon general saying Scott Rivkees suggests "all individuals in Florida should wear face coverings in any setting where social distancing is not possible” is evidence that wearing a mask in public is sound and necessary practice from a scientific perspective.
"You must take the next step and make it a requirement."
The letter cites various reasons why a statewide mandate should be in place including, public security, protect ourselves and others from the germs around us, reduction in COVID-19 cases and more.
Mandatory mask ordinances have picked up in the Tampa Bay area with cities like Tampa and St. Petersburg being the first to take effect on June 19. And counties like Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas following suit with their own requirements.
The lawmakers highlight such additions in cities and counties across the state but say they are not enough and that the coronavirus knows no bounds.
"While some communities throughout the state have adopted regulations requiring masks, the virus does not know or adhere to delineations of city or county. Floridians need strong, universal guidance from you during this time of uncertainty," the lawmakers wrote. "We need to hear from you, clearly and unequivocally, that wearing a mask in public is a requirement. In saying so, you will be making a statement, driven by scientific data, that each individual has an urgent and integral role to play in slowing the spread of this virus."
The other 11 lawmakers to sign the letter include: Reps. Alcee Hastings, FL-20, Kathy Castor (FL-14), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Val Demings (FL-10), Al Lawson (FL-05), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Darren Soto (FL-09), and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26).
Castor, Crist and Soto represent districts in the Tampa Bay area.
You can read the entire letter here.
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