A Florida sheriff has barred deputies from wearing facial coverings even as the state struggles to control the record breaking coronavirus numbers.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods claims there's no conclusive evidence that wearing masks curbs the spread of the virus, although the CDC guidelines say just that.
Last week, in the county seat, the Ocala City Council passed an emergency ordinance requiring masks be worn inside businesses. The city's mayor vetoed the ordinance on Monday, and the council overrode the veto with a 4-1 vote on Wednesday.
Still, in an email obtained by the Ocala Star Banner, the sheriff told employees, "For us, my order will stand as is. When you are on-duty [and] working as my employee and representing my office — masks will not be worn."
The sheriff said masks could hinder communication with the public. But he also disputed scientific agreement that masks help contain the spread of the virus, saying, "I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t."
The order applies to all 900 employees and civilians that come into the office. The local paper reported on Tuesday that the county set a single-day record for the most COVID-19-related deaths, with 13.
Contains footage from CNN.