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Florida sheriff bans masks for deputies, with some exceptions

Posted at 2:55 PM, Aug 12, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A central Florida sheriff says his deputies won't be allowed to wear face masks except under some conditions, and neither will visitors to the sheriff's office.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods made the announcement on the week that Florida had some of its highest days of coronavirus deaths.

“In light of the current events when it comes to the sentiment and/or hatred toward law enforcement in our country today, this is being done to ensure there is clear communication and for identification purposes of any individual walking into a lobby,” he wrote in a statement.

Sheriff Woods said working mask-free hasn’t led to a spike of infections in his 900-person department. “Since the beginning of this pandemic the operation of this office has not changed and no wearing of masks has been put in place,” he said in a statement to the Washington Post.

On Wednesday, state health officials reported 212 new deaths from COVID-19.

Also on Wednesday, there more than 8,100 new infections reported, for a total of 550,000 cases in the state since the pandemic started.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July asked Americans to wear masks to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

This story originally reported by Tamara Lush, Mike Schneider and The Associated Press.