A video filmed at a Florida grocery store this week by an NBC News correspondent quickly went viral after many customers and employees in the footage were seen not wearing face masks.
The video, filmed and posted on Twitter Wednesday by NBC News correspondent Sam Brock, pans along the checkout registers at Oakes Farms Seed to Table Market in Naples, about 42 miles south of Fort Myers.
In the footage, many employees and customers can be seen without face masks and not observing social distancing guidelines as advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Brock added when posting his video, which as of Thursday early afternoon had approximately 3 million views, that a sign outside the store said customers could cite “medical exemptions” for not wearing a mask.
As #Flordia fights community spread of COVID on a massive scale, this is a 15-second snapshot of a supermarket in Naples. Many employees and customers- even older ones- with no masks on inside. Store sign outside cites “medical exemptions,” we can’t ask questions. @NBCNews pic.twitter.com/rNUSOPLjeB— Sam Brock (@SamBrockNBC) February 3, 2021
NBC News reported Thursday that while Collier County, where Naples is located, currently has a mask mandate in place, the grocery store’s sign says employees "cannot legally ask" customers to present information verifying a medical condition.
"Those in our lovely government have ordered all persons entering indoor facilities to wear a mask. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from this order,” the sign reads, according to NBC.
The sign adds, "if we see you without a mask, we will assume you have a medical condition and we will welcome you inside to support our business."
Alfie Oakes, the owner of the supermarket, told the “Today” show in an interview that aired Thursday that mask requirements are “total hogwash.”
"I know that the masks don't work, and I know that the virus has not killed 400,000 people in this country,” Oakes said. "Why don't we shut the world down because of a heart attack? Why don't we lock down cities because of heart attacks?"
As of Thursday, the U.S. has had approximately 26.6 million coronavirus infections and nearly 453,000 deaths due to the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In Florida, one of the early hotspots for COVID-19, the state’s health department has recorded more than 1.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, as well as more than 27,000 coronavirus fatalities.
In Collier County alone, there have been more than 27,000 coronavirus infections and 413 deaths since the start of the pandemic.