Florida lawmakers demand Gov. DeSantis issue statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surge

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As coronavirus cases in Florida continue to soar, 10 Democratic state lawmakers have issued a letter demanding Gov. Ron DeSantis order a statewide mask mandate. 

Legislators, including Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith from Orange County, said that doing so is “not a partisan issue.” 

"Just joined my colleagues in asking @GovRonDeSantis to issue an order requiring masks statewide. This is not a partisan issue," tweeted Rep. Fentrice Driskell. "We can curb the spread of COVID-19 as we reopen by following the lead of healthcare experts who recommend wearing facial coverings as a best practice." 

“In watching the devastation that COVID-19 is causing in our communities,” the letter said. “We strongly recommend that the State of Florida implement a mandatory use of face coverings over the nose and mouth while in a business or other building open to the public, as well as outdoor public spaces, whenever social distancing is not possible.”

RELATED: Orange City to meet on Monday to discuss proposed mask mandate

The letter was issued on Friday when Florida saw a jump of nearly 9,500 new coronavirus cases. Saturday then saw 11,000 cases and another 10,000 on Sunday.

Rep. Eskamani believes people would listen if Gov. DeSantis put a statewide mask mandate in place.

"Wearing a mask is one of the most patriotic things someone can do because it shows you care about community and country," Rep. Eskamani said. "I do think that if the governor would put into place that requirement, it would inspire more Floridians that follow the governors’ direction and leadership to do the same."

The demand for mandatory face masks also came at the start of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, in which many beaches were open. 

RELATED: Study shows effectiveness of different types of masks against COVID-19

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In recent days, Gov. DeSantis has stood firm on the decision that he will not make face masks mandatory statewide, despite the rise in coronavirus cases. 

“I think it’s something. We provide education. We did an advisory at the beginning of May and we’ve advised that that’s something that could make an impact,” the governor said during a news conference from Lee Health Fort Myers. “But at the same time, to do police and put criminal penalties on that is something that would probably backfire.”

He advised residents to continue to be vigilant and avoid crowds if you can.  

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