Pinellas County extends mask mandate for another week

After Manatee County and Lakeland chose to end their local mask mandates, Pinellas County extended their own.

During Tuesday's meeting, county commissioners voted against lifting the mask mandate and continued the state of emergency for another seven days.

"The mask ordinance, I know is controversial, I know people disagree with it, but also know it works," said Barry Burton, the county administrator. "We're seeing it in schools where we're not seeing large outbreaks, we're seeing it throughout the nation. I recommend that we continue this and pass this."

Pinellas County director of public health Dr. Ulyee Choe said the 7-day rolling percent positive was at 3.1% and deaths within the county continue to decline. The majority of coronavirus-related deaths occur in the nursing home.

READ: Florida face-covering rules: List of mandatory coronavirus mask orders in the Tampa Bay area

He added that the county's healthcare system remains "stable." So far, there have been 44 students at public and charter schools who tested positive.

I don't think our focus ought to be on how we end the mask order. That narrative was created by folks who obviously disagree on masks in general," said Commissioner Kenneth Welch. "I think our focus should be, as we heard from 10 doctors…the focus ought to be how we proceed safely into Phase 3, into reopening our economy and through the availability of a vaccine. Every credible source is saying masks are a part of that."