A Florida sheriff has banned his employees from wearing face masks at work, despite the state seeing a record daily surge in coronavirus fatalities.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods issued the surprising command via email on Tuesday, in spite of the fact the local government passed has mandated the use of face coverings inside businesses.
‘My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn,’ Woods wrote in the email, which has been obtained by The Ocala Star Banner.
Officers will be able to ask for exemptions when attending court, jail, schools or hospitals. However,Woods expects his employees to go mask-free everywhere else.
‘As for special details and/or any special events (paid or not), masks will not be worn,’ he bluntly ordered.
Woods subsequently stated: ‘This is no longer a debate nor is it up for discussion. Please keep in mind this entire pandemic is fluid and constantly changing the way things are done. However, my orders will be followed or my actions will be swift to address.’
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods from wearing face masks at work, despite the local area seeing a record daily surge in coronavirus fatalities
According to The Ocala Star Banner, the Sheriff’s Office employs around 900 people, including jailhouse workers.
At least five cops – including patrol officers – have contracted COVID-19. More than 30 jail employees have tested positive to the highly-contagious virus.
Meanwhile, members of the public who visit the Marion County Sheriff’s Office will also be required to remove any face covering they may be wearing.
‘Effective immediately, any individual walking in to any one of our lobbies (which includes the main office and all district offices) that is wearing a mask will be asked to remove it, ‘Woods wrote.
‘In light of the current events when it comes to the sentiment and/or hatred toward law enforcement in our country today, this is being done to ensure there is clear communication and for identification purposes of any individual walking into a lobby.’
‘This is no longer a debate nor is it up for discussion’: Woods issued the strict orders in an email sent out Tuesday
Woods added: ‘We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t.
The leaked email has sparked outrage among many community members.
Marion County -located in Central Florida- has reported more than 6,600 cases of COVID-19.
At least 102 residents have died from the virus.
Woods’ email was sent on the same day that Florida reported record high fatalities from the coronavirus.
Florida reported 276 new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the statewide death toll to just over 8,500. Healthcare workers are seen conducting coronavirus tests in Miami on Monday
Florida has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. Medics are seen transferring a coronavirus patient into an ambulance in Miami over the weekend
Florida reported 276 new deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to just over 8,500. The spike came after deaths in the hotspot state declined 10 percent last week compared to the previous seven days.
However, the number of cases in Florida continue to trend downwards following a huge summer spike across the south. The state reported 5,800 cases on Tuesday, down from the record 15,000 in mid-July.
More than 164,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19 and the average number of deaths has remained at just over 1,000 per day for two weeks.
While the average daily death toll is still high, it remains below levels seen in April when an average of 2,000 people a day were dying from the virus.
Cases, which have now surpassed 5.1 million, have been falling nationally for three straight weeks and the average daily infection toll remains steady at about 52,000.
Florida reported 276 new deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to just over 8,500