“This is no longer a debate,” Sheriff Billy Woods wrote.
A sheriff in Florida has banned his employees and anyone visiting his offices from wearing a mask during the pandemic ̵1; a move that is sure to cause controversy as studies have shown masks reduce the risk of transmitting the novel’s coronavirus.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods wrote in an Aug. 11 email to employees that some exemptions will be made, including in courts, prisons, schools and hospitals. But “masks will not be worn” by on-duty employees at any other time, he said.
Woods continued in the email, which was taken from ABC News, to say that any person entering “any of our lobbies (which includes the main office and all district offices) who is wearing a mask will be required to remove it. ”
“Now, I can already hear the screams and just so you know I did not make this decision easily and I have weighed it for the last 2 weeks. … This is no longer a debate nor is it a discussion, he wrote.
Woods said for as many health professionals as would be competing to wear the mask, he “can find the right amount of professionals who say why we should not”.
His comments stand in stark contrast to the over-the-top medical consensus, in addition to guidelines from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The CDC recommended face masks in April, with the WHO following in June.
Now – more than seven months into this global pandemic – experts say enough evidence has been gathered to conclude that the masks are critical in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
A study published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, found that wearing a mask can reduce the risk of transmission from 17% to 3%.
The Woods order comes after the City of Ocala, located in Marion County, is working to establish a warrant for the masks.
Ocala City Council passed an emergency regulation 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 on Wednesday to consider overcoming the veto, Star Banner reported.
Florida, including Marion County, set a one-day record Tuesday for the largest COVID-19-related deaths.
Wearing masks between law enforcement has been less consistent than in the general public.
An ABC News analysis found that only three of the largest police departments in the country require officers to wear masks and gloves while patrolling the Free Black Terror protests. The other six largest police departments require, but do not mandate, that duty officers wear masks or gloves in public.
In Ocala, officers are advised not to wear masks while on duty in order to communicate clearly with the people they encounter, according to Star Banner.
Woods said as such in his email, telling employees that even if they are among the exceptions who may wear the mask, “the moment enforcement action is taken … the mask will be removed immediately”.
Woods concluded his email by saying, “My orders will be followed or my actions will be swift to address them.”
“Be safe!” Wrote Woods.