Polk County to give away masks, but not willing to require they be worn

Polk County commissioners unanimously decided Tuesday to strongly encourage people to wear masks inside public buildings where they cannot socially distance but they stopped short of requiring them.

Many cities across the Bay Area, and some counties, too, have issued their own mask mandates to slow the spread of COVID-19, but Polk County leaders say they don't see the benefit.

“We have speeding laws,” said Commissioner George Lindsey. “Yet we still have people who speed.”

Lindsey also said enforcing the wearing of masks would be very difficult.

“If we mandated it, it may or may not change anyone’s behavior,” commented fellow commissioner, John Hall.

Instead, commissioners are buying one million masks, which will be distributed for free once they arrive.

They are hoping that people are responsible and wear them voluntarily.

Last week, Lakeland city commissioners voted to require the wearing of masks. Violators can be fined up to $250.