Alachua County commissioners to consider mask mandate countywide, despite Gov. DeSantis’ order

Alachua County commissioners to consider mask mandate countywide, despite Gov. DeSantis’ order
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Alachua County residents may need to prepare for another mask mandate, as Alachua County commissioners are meeting Wednesday night to discuss a requirement, despite Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order.

As Delta variant cases continue to rise and vaccination rates remain lower than officials would like, commissioners have a decision to make.

Alachua County reported nearly 430 adults in the hospital with COVID-19, nearly 100 more than last Tuesday.

In May, Gov. DeSantis approved SB 2006, allowing him to invalidate a local government’s emergency order, if it restricts an individual’s rights or liberties.

Related story: Alachua County Commission extends “state of emergency” for COVID-19

“We’re not seeing the rates of hospitalization go down,” Alachua Commissioner Anna Prizzia said. “With all due respect to the governor, he is not a medical doctor. Making a medical decision needs to be left up to the experts and doctors and those are the people we are hearing from that we need to put a mask mandate in place.”

Resident Camilo Reina Munoz said he fears the variant and wants a mandate.

“While it might go against what the state is asking, I think it’s what’s right for us as a community,” Munoz said.

While some residents in Alachua County are in favor of another mask mandate, Malika Chacon said she wants the option to either not wear one or mask up.

“The mandate coming up again is stressful,” Chacon said. “I would like it to be a personal choice and if I’m feeling any kind of symptom at all, I use that to my discretion of if I want to put a mask on if I need to go into the store”

The governor’s press secretary says no one is above the law and they hope the board does not go through with the mandate.

Related story: Alachua County mask mandate unlikely after new CDC guidance

“This isn’t about trying to stomp on individual liberties,” Prizza said. “This is about everybody coming together to protect each other.”

Prizzia said if the mandate passes and the governor fights back, so will the commission in court.

The meeting begins Wednesday at 5 p.m. The commission will take public comment in person or via phone at 1-800-876-7516.

To view the meeting when it begins, click here.

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