Florida Surgeon General issues mask advisory to curb COVID-19 crisis

Advisory asks people to wear masks in all public places where social distancing is not possible

Most major Florida cities now require wearing face masks in public

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s top medical officer has issued a continuance of the state’s mask advisory as the number of coronavirus cases surges past 100,000.

State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees extended the advisory Saturday, citing that even though Florida has moved to phase two on its reopening process, residents should still wear face coverings where social distancing is not possible.

Rivkees previously issued a medical advisory warning of the health risk of COVID-19 in early May. The advisory addressed protective measures strongly encouraging the usage of face coverings for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

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This advisory extends the use of face coverings asking everyone to utilize them as people take advantage of businesses and recreational facilities reopening. The Florida Department of Health labeled the use of face coverings as an updated measure in the fight to eliminate coronavirus within the state.

There are instances in which face coverings do not have to be used, according to the FDOH advisory. Children under the age of two are not required to wear face coverings nor are individuals who have medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing one.

Those obtaining a service involving their nose or face can temporarily remove their face covering until that service is complete. Those who work in a profession where a mask isn’t compatible or work in an outdoor area where social distancing is possible can also forego the face covering, according to the advisory.

Rivkees’ advisory comes on the heels of a resurgence of coronavirus across the state. As of Monday, FDOH reported 13,119 people have died due to complications with the virus.

Despite the rise of new infections, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he does not plan to roll back any of the state’s plans to continue reopening or to issue an executive order requiring people wear face masks in public.

Rivkees’ advisory was issued the same day Orange County implemented its mask mandate. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings calling it a precautionary measure as the county has seen its coronavirus case count surpass 5,000. Osceola County emphasized to its residents that it is still mandatory to wear a face covering, a measure county leaders put in place in April.

Rivkees’ advisory notes that although reopening plans persist across the state, those over the age of 65 or with high-risk health conditions should limit social interactions. He emphasized that all individuals should continue to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health safety guidelines.

The state surgeon general adds that all individuals should refrain from participating in social gatherings of more than 50 people. For gatherings fewer than that limit, people should still maintain at least six feet of distance from others and wear a face covering.

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