By Tim Elfrink / washingtonpost.com August 12, 2020 at 2:32 a.m. CDT
On Tuesday, as Florida set a daily record for covid-19 deaths, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods prohibited his deputies from wearing masks at work. His order, which also applies to visitors to the sheriff’s office, carves out an exception for officers in some locations, including hospitals, and when dealing with people who are high-risk or suspected of having the novel coronavirus.
In an email to the sheriff’s department shared with The Washington Post, Woods disputed the idea that masks are a consensus approach to battling the pandemic.
“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t,” Woods wrote in the email, which was first reported by the Ocala Star-Banner.
A majority of epidemiologists and other health experts say face masks and social distancing are key to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has ravaged Florida. The state, which has recorded more than 542,000 cases and more than 8,600 deaths, added 277 more deaths on Tuesday; Marion County also set a record for daily deaths on Tuesday, with 13.