Florida county mayor asks residents to wear masks regardless of vaccination
The mayor of Orange County, Florida, is asking residents to again wear face masks indoors as the county faces climbing COVID-19 positivity rates.
“I am announcing today that it is my official recommendation that Orange County return to the status in which it is recommended that all residents vaccinated and unvaccinated consider wearing facial coverings indoors when in crowded environments,” Mayor Jerry Demings said in an announcement reported by a local NPR affiliate station.
As a community, let’s build immunity against COVID-19: https://t.co/luD7g03a0n
As of July 12:
✅ 59.69% of Orange County residents 12+ have received at least one dose of the vaccine
✅ Orange County’s 14-day rolling positivity rate: 7.78%
— Orange County FL (@OrangeCoFL) July 12, 2021
Officials say the rising cases are largely among the unvaccinated.
“It makes a lot of sense what the mayor just announced. For those who are going to go into crowded environments indoors everyone should be masked,” county medical director Raul Pino said. “If you want to protect yourself. It is your choice, it is your decision, it’s not a mandate.”
The announcement comes as the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads more rapidly and becomes the dominant strain in the U.S. Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci characterized the delta strain of the coronavirus as a “nasty variant” during an interview on Sunday.
“The bad news is that we have a very nasty variant. The good news is that we have a vaccine that works against it,” Fauci said.
The delta variant is believed to spread much more easily than both the original strain and the alpha variant of the virus first found in Britain, and may cause much more serious illness.
Those with the highest risk of infection are unvaccinated adults and children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. The risk of serious illness from the delta variant is likely higher for unvaccinated adults, but experts are still concerned that children are at risk.
Cases of the virus have spiked in almost every state as the delta variant spreads and as states relax pandemic restrictions such as mask mandates and social distancing requirements.