Seminole County requires residents to wear masks as COVID-19 continues to spread

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Florida – Seminole County leaders announced Monday afternoon that residents will now be required to wear masks while in public as an additional measure to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Any person who works, lives, visits, or does business in Seminole County is required to wear a mask that is consistent with CDC guidelines at all businesses, meeting places, and other places open to the public,” Read in the executive order.

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The mandate was signed Monday by Seminole County Director of Emergency Management Alan Harris. The order takes effect on Wednesday.

Exemptions include those who exercise, residents with certain medical conditions, and children under the age of 2.

Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners Jay Zembower said that although the mask mandates have been controversial in some areas, the measure is aimed at protecting people and saving lives.

“The face mask topic that we hear a lot of debate about, ‘Well, I shouldn’t use that’ or ‘I don’t need to use that’ or ‘You’re violating my civil rights.’ Well, the reality is that we know it works,” he said. Zembower.

He compared not wearing a mask to putting on a mask and ear plugs and walking through a busy intersection.

Finally, he said it all comes down to asking residents to “do the right thing.”

However, he noted that some people may not be able to wear masks due to medical or mental issues, so he asked that members of the public not fight fights or confront someone just because they don’t have facial coverage. Instead, he simply suggested avoiding that person.

Dr. Sean Benoit, medical director of Central Florida Regional Hospital, explained that the virus moves through respiratory droplets, which can be blocked by facial covers.

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“A study showed that in states that required face masks, and we’ve been following this for some time, in states that required face masks and public use that there was a decrease in the daily growth rate of COVID-19.” That is something very significant that you can see in recent months. That growth rate has been lower if they wear face masks, ”said Benoit.

Dr. Todd Husky, Seminole County Medical Director, said that while cases are on the rise, hospitals are not overwhelmed and want to make sure it continues to take action.

“There is no hospital in Seminole County that is really overwhelmed. See increases, absolutely, and when you see a curve and it goes up and up, you say ‘OK, at what point do we get into trouble?’ You have all seen on the news that Houston is in trouble. Houston about a month ago wasn’t that bad. Not too bad at all. It just shot out of control. There was a time in New York where they had fewer cases than we have now. They got the big curve, they got, they started going up like that. We don’t want to be New York, we feel bad for them. Houston, we feel bad for them. We don’t want history to repeat itself in the sharpness of Seminole County, there has been talk of sharpness, ”Husky said.

Already, Orange County, Osceola County, and Daytona Beach require facial coatings.

The state has seen a notable increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. The state cumulative total is 146,341, with 2,477 of those cases in Seminole County.

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