MARION COUNTY, Fla (News Nation) — A Florida sheriff told his deputies and employees that they are not allowed to wear masks inside the office despite the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to his employees, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said the following:
Health experts – including Centers for Disease Control – say masks are a vital way to stop the spread of coronavirus. They’re required in 31 states – including Alabama – where a lawsuit was filed Tuesday saying citizens were denied their liberty by being forced to wear a mask.
“They seem to be forgetting this is about public health,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “This is not about authority or individuals telling you what to do with your life. We are all in this together.”
Woods told people to stand their ground if confronted for not wearing a mask.
“If at any time you are confronted by any individual complaining, berating you or just being a difficult individual, you will politely and professionally tell them ‘I am not required to wear a mask nor will I, per the order of the sheriff’ and then walk away from them,” Woods continued in the letter to staff.
The biggest city in Marion County – Ocala, Florida – passed a mandatory indoor mask ordinance one day after the Sheriff started his no mask policy.
“Personal liberty is what this country is built on,” said Ocala Councilman Brent Malever. “But personal liberty is built on personal responsibility. And right now we have a personal responsibility to protect those around us.”
Some scientific studies show masks due help with the spread of coronavirus. Vanderbilt University compared COVID-19 hospitalizations in areas with mask mandates verses areas where masks are not required.
“We found that those hospitals that typically draw their patients from areas that currently have a mask mandate in place, we are seeing a flattening of that hospitalization curve,” said Dr. Melissa McPheeters of Vanderbilt University.
Woods declined News Nation’s request for an interview but he did say in his letter that deputies will wear masks in jail, in the courthouse and inside schools because they are required there.