Agriculture commissioner calls for statewide mask order

With thousands of additional COVID-19 cases being added each day in Florida, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called Thursday for a statewide requirement that people wear masks in public places. 

Many local governments have approved mask requirements as the number of cases has surged this month, but Governor Ron DeSantis has declined to issue a statewide order. 

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Fried, the only Democrat on the state Cabinet, has been highly critical of the Republican governor’s handling of the pandemic. 

She calls a statewide mask requirement common sense.

“Everybody should be wearing masks. We know that the masks are not going to stop the spread, but it certainly will slow it down,” Fried said. “We also need to reinforce that COVID is not behind us. So, everybody needs to stay vigilant. Everybody needs to continue having social distancing.” 

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The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported an additional 5,004 COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to more than 114 thousand. The department also reported 46 additional deaths, bringing the death toll from the disease to 3,327.

“We are seeing these spikes because of the fact that people are not wearing the masks, they’re not doing social distancing, they’re gathering in large areas and it’s very irresponsible to make people feel that this is behind us,” Fried added.