Florida doctors urge governor to require face masks as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise

A group of Florida doctors is urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to require people to wear masks.

See our in-depth coverage below:

Some states already require masks. But in Florida, it is only recommended that you wear them when you can’t practice social distancing.

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“People don’t like wearing them, I understand that,” said Dr. Ronald Saff with Physicians for Social Responsibility. “”There’s some … virus fatigue going on and people get tired of wearing a masks. But still, as one snarky physician colleague of mine said: ‘You may not like wearing a mask, but it sure beats wearing a ventilator.‘”

Read: COVID-19 positivity rate in children on the rise in Florida, Department of Health says

The Florida chapter of Physicians of Social Responsibility, which has about 2,500 members, sent a letter to DeSantis last week. When he didn’t respond, they showed up at the governor’s mansion.

“We’re really troubled that Governor Desantis won’t take this simple, common sense, kind of no-brainer idea that could result in saving lives,” Saff said.

Masks can stop the transmission of COVID-19 by 50%, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, whose data is often cited by the White House.

The U.S. leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases, with nearly 2.2 million infections.

In the U.S., only between 20% and 40% of people wear masks. But Florida is a little better, with about 50% of people covering their faces, according to the institute.

Some would like to see those numbers higher.

“I believe they should mandate masks because it would be a lot safer for everybody,” Poinciana resident Jamie Matias said.

“If we don’t cooperate, we’re going to go back with those numbers up and up and up,” Teo Vazquez of Orlando said.

The governor said cases are going up in Florida because the state is testing more people. However, a local statistician analyzed the data and found testing is leveling off, but the cases continue to climb.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.