Tampa Bay Mayor Jane Castor announced Thursday that she will be making face masks mandatory throughout the city starting Friday.
The measure goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, June 19, and will require masks in indoor areas where social distancing is not possible, according to Fox 13. Castor, in a recent press conference, said that there had been “a 900 percent increase in the last month” of coronavirus cases in the city. (RELATED: Man With Machete Tattoo On Face Allegedly Attacks Man With Machete)
“This is an emergency now,” said Castor during an Emergency Planning Group meeting, per Fox 13, “I’m willing to put a mandatory mask ordinance for the city of Tampa right now to protect citizens.” The group also voted to draft a mask ordinance at their meeting next Monday that could apply to businesses and customers.
Hillsborough County, where Tampa Bay is located, has attempted to pass mask ordinances in the past, but failed due to opposition from more rural areas that have less cases, according to Fox 13. The idea of the new ordinance has already received opposition from Sheriff Chad Chronister, school board member Melissa Snively, and Plant City mayor Rick Lott.
“Our job was never to find the cure for COVID,” said Lott to Fox 13, “Our job was to not overwhelm the medical system and our hospitals. To me, this is going as planned.” Florida set a new record-high for cases in a single day with 3,200 new cases Thursday.
“If we wear masks, we can put an end to this spread. That’s the bottom line,” Castor said at the county’s emergency policy group meeting. https://t.co/O1dSdZn5jK
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) June 18, 2020
Local bars and restaurants have closed as employees have tested positive for the virus, reported Fox 13. University of South Florida public health professor Dr. Thomas Unnasch told the Emergency Planning Group that the case rate in Hillsborough County is doubling every five days. Unnasch also said that his projections show one million COVID-19 cases by mid-July in the county if no action is taken, per Fox 13.
“If we do nothing, we can close this whole system down and not worry about this by early September but at that point we’re going to have 70-percent of our population have this disease and God knows how many dead bodies laying in the streets,” said Unnash to the group, reported Fox 13.