WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd declined to answer a question about COVID-19 masks on Friday, hours after the White House confirmed President Trump had tested positive for the virus.
At a press conference about the arrest of a carjacker, an unidentified reporter asked the sheriff why, in light of the president’s news, Judd and his staff do not wear masks.
The always outspoken sheriff declined to answer the question and paused for a tense moment.
“When President Trump comes here, he don’t have to wear a mask either,” Grady eventually said, punctuating his statement with a wink. “Have a good day. Any other questions?”
Sheriff Judd, a former president of the Major County Sheriffs of America, has not been shy about his support for the president, traveling to the White House and other events.
There has been no countywide mask mandate in Polk County during the COVID-19 pandemic, though Lakeland and Winter Haven – in which Judd’s main office is located – did pass municipal orders requiring mask usage most indoor locations.
Polk County has seen more than 20,000 residents diagnosed with COVID-19, and 531 deaths blamed on the virus. The two-week average positivity rate for new tests was at 5.72% as of Thursday, the most recent date available. The statewide rate for the same time was 4.64%.
Both rates are trending down.
As Florida’s coronavirus cases have stabilized, some counties have discussed relaxing mask rules. Manatee County eliminated their mandate entirely earlier this week after Gov. Ron DeSantis moved the state to full Phase Three of the reopening plan.