Mask mandate starting to draw bipartisan support

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 4:49 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - Over the past week, Florida has added more than 65,000 new cases of COVID-19, averaging nearly 9,300 new COVID infections a day.

The new wave of infections is reigniting calls for a statewide mask mandate and the idea is now garnering bipartisan support.

Republican State Representative Mike Caruso has joined with Democrats who have been calling for a mandate since early on in the pandemic.

“The masks should have never been a political divider for our state and for our country,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried.

Fried, the top elected state Democrat, began pushing the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate back in June.

“Leadership has got to start at the top. So hopefully Representative Caruso’s courage to come together and to really make this a nonpartisan issue is the first step to making those changes,” said Fried.

In recent days, local governments have launched new efforts to encourage mask-wearing.

Tampa’s Choose Your Mask campaign is pushing a flier that implies the choice between a face mask or a ventilator.

But the local campaigns are only symbolic in nature.

The governor’s latest pandemic executive order prohibits local governments from actually enforcing mask mandates.

Dr. Ron Saff, who serves on the board of the Florida Physicians for Social Responsibility, says any movement towards mask enforcement is a step in the right direction.

“And our political leaders in the House, in the Senate, they should have stepped up a long time ago to put the reigns on Governor DeSantis,” said Dr. Saff.

Representative Caruso has said he intends to push his fellow Republicans to enact a statewide mask mandate in the 2021 session, but a legislative mask mandate would have to survive the governor’s veto pen.

The Governor’s Office told us it has so far not been contacted by Representative Caruso.

We reached out to Rep. Caruso for comment on this story but did not hear back.

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