‘We’re dying here,’ Florida newspaper says in pleading with governor to issue a statewide mask mandate

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis Viacnn 1280
Wilfredo Lee/AP

A South Florida newspaper is pleading with Gov. Ron DeSantis to do more amid the surge in coronavirus cases and deaths spreading across Florida.

The Sun Sentinel editorial board asked him to issue a statewide face mask mandate in an editorial titled, “Help us out, Gov. DeSantis. We’re dying here.”

“Help us all out. Far better that you require people to wear masks in public than to continue fostering conditions that will force another shutdown,” the editorial said.

“Your refusal to impose a mask order — a requirement now in effect in 32 other states — is out-of-touch with the mainstream. A new Quinnipiac poll found 79 percent of Floridians support a mask requirement, including 60 percent of Republicans. If that’s not a mandate, what is?”

DeSantis encourages people to wear masks but is leaving it up to local governments to issue mask mandates, saying a state mandate punishable by law could backfire.

The governor said that some local sheriffs have said they would not enforce such a law and there are parts of the state where a mandate wouldn’t make sense. Businesses also have the right to ask customers to wear masks, he said

Florida set a new record for the number of deaths in a day for the fourth day in a row. The 257 deaths reported on Friday is the highest the state has reported since the pandemic began, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.

“Your daily upbeat message is hopelessly at odds with what Floridians are going through,” the editorial said. “You make it sound like everything is headed in the right direction. But it’s not.”

A study has shown that wearing a face covering or mask is the most effective way to limit the person-to-person spread of coronavirus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that everyone should wear them when around other people in public.

Florida reported 9,007 new coronavirus cases in the state on Friday, which brings the total to at least 470,300, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Florida is second in total cases only to California and ahead of New York, which was once considered the epicenter of the pandemic in the US.