The Flagler Beach and Bunnell city commissions this evening both voted unanimously to approve mask-wearing requirements in all public places and outdoors where social distancing is not possible, joining Palm Coast, where a similar measure passed that council on Tuesday.
All three governments expressly said they were not interested in a “mask police,” or having law enforcement involved in enforcing the requirement, which is designed to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
All three resolutions, which are nearly interchangeable, provide for numerous exceptions such as for people suffering certain health conditions, the youngest children, people exercising or eating and drinking in restaurants, and so on.
“I work for a health care company and we have been wearing masks now for months, the company has actually increased restrictions of non-wearing of masks,” Bunnell Mayor Catherine Robinson said in lengthy opening remarks, pressing for the resolution. She cited the latest numbers in Florida and Flagler, which have been sobering, and revealed specific information until now not known publicly: that currently, nine people are at AdventHealth Palm Coast for Covid treatment, three of them in the intensive care unit. The Agency for Health Care Administraton today indicated that just one ICU bed was available at AdventHealth Palm Coast, and just four general medicine beds.
Robinson described the issue as “us showing unity to each other” sand “a visible signal to remind people to be careful.” Turning to Commissioner Bill Baxley, who is in his 80s and is the senior-most elected official in the county, Robinson said: “I care about him and I don’t want to do anything that’s going to hurt him.” People 55 and over have been at most risk for contracting the disease, as have people with underlying conditions. The state today exceeded 4,000 deaths, with a total of 120 deaths in a single day. “I don’t want anybody I know, love or care about to be part of those stats,” Robinson said.
Flagler Beach City Commission Chair Jane Mealy spoke in similarly forceful terms after an in-person presentation to the commission by Bob Snyder, the health department chief in Flagler. The usually ebullient Snyder was more reserved, as he has been in recent days, the burden of Flagler’s and Florida’s grimmer numbers clearly affecting his tone.
Snyder also addressed hospitalizations as if specifically to discredit a common misconception–that Florida’s ongoing surge has not resulted in serious increases in hospitalizations or deaths. “Hospitalizations related to Covid-19 admissions are up significantly,” Snyder said of the local hospital. He said there are “several individuals in the ICU< some of them extremely sick." Emergency room visits he said "began to increase and spike" a few weeks ago, while the health department's workload for case investigations has tripled. The plan is to add 40 staff members, with 10 new nurses joining the staff Monday.
"I can't even think of a second wave right now, because we're still in the first wave, and things are going in the wrong direction. This is a war folks, and we are fighting an invisible enemy," Snyder said, differentiating Covid-19 from other flu-like epidemics of recent years. He said 40 to 70 percent of people who have the virus are asymptomatic, unknowingly spreading it.
"You are on the right side of history here, despite what you're hearing," Snyder told the commissioners.
No one among the public addressed the Bunnell commission’s meeting, some of it conducted by Zoom, some of it in person. The commission approved its resolution in a 20-minute special meeting early this evening. A few people addressed the Flagler Beach commission, most of them opposed to a mandate, some of them repeating gross inaccuracies, such as the claim that Taiwan has controlled the virus without mask-wearing. (Masks are near-universal in Taiwan, and strict restrictions are still enforced even though the island nation has all but controlled the virus.)
Paul Harrington, the former candidate for the Flagler Beach commission, summed up a common sentiment among opponents of mask mandates. “I don’t need someone telling me you ought to wear a mask,” he said, though he himself wears a mask wherever he thinks it necessary and believes in the common sense need to wear one.
But “approaching and advising” is the extent of any enforcement in the city’s resolution, City Attorney Drew Smith said.
“So it’s an unenforceable resolution,” Mayor “like saying please don’t speed but we won’t give you a ticket.”
There’s only been 40 cases in the Flagler Beach zip code and its surroundings north and south, Flagler Beach Police Chief Matt Doughney, who is opposed to a mask mandate, said. “We’re not supposed to be enforcing regulatory rules,” he said, saying the climate for mask enforcement is “tepid,” and will trigger litigation, costing the city. “It should not be a criminal offense,” he said. Rather, residents should be thoroughly educated about the virus and encouraged to follow the proper guidelines.
Both Robinson in Bunnell and Snyder in Flagler Beach cited from a new study Flagler Health Department Medical Director Stephen Bickel circulated among local authorities earlier today, pointing to conclusive evidence that mask wearing lowers the incidence of fatalities.
A Flagler Beach commissioner asked: Can businesses refuse service to people without the mandate? Smith said any business can conduct its protocols the way a business chooses, but the mandate gives businesses “enough of a comfort level” to ensure that the requirement is in place, thus deflecting the responsibility.
“This has a little bit more persuasive value,” Belhumeur said, giving businesses “more backbone as far as protecting people by refusing entry or service to people.”
The Flagler Beach resolution would be in effect for 45 days, with the possibility of renewal.
Nothing will change then other than cases and hospitalization s will continue to rise here and in Florida .
Sadly like almost any issue people have migrated to their “ team camps “ and made a public health care issue a political one .
The proof of what I just laid out is our lack of control vs countries like South Korea , Italy , France , Germany , France and others .
We are not capable , as divided Americans , to get a grip on this virus .
There are too many who won’t accept the science , the overwhelming recommendations of huge majority of doctors and scientists.
There are too many who won’t allow the social courtesy of wearing masks , follow social distancing , etc .
We are required to wear seatbelts for a good reason .
We aren’t allowed to yell out “ fire “ in a crowded theatre for a good reason .
Is the mask inconveniences such a terrible sacrifice for people with such potential upside for all of us ? Really ?
We know this mandate won’t be even tried to encourage or enforce by our Sheriff and company .
I’ve seen several citizen stops around town with officers standing two feet away and not wearing masks .
This is not my definition of public service nor protecting either the officers or the citizens .
This is not my idea of leadership , showing example .
So , nothing will change .
Stupid just government control. It’s not going to save any lives or do anything other than maybe prolong it. Better off just letting nature take its course because it’s going to happen mask or no mask so what’s the point. Now more people will be touching their faces adjusting masks spreading more germs. Ugh people are so out of touch with reality and common sense is not common anymore. Discussed with this bs!
Shaking my head says
Think about all of the seniors in our community. The children. If we all do our part now, maybe the virus will slow down and the mask mandate will do away. Stop always fighting and thinking about yourselves.
Well said, TD1.
Your statement that nothing will changed is evidenced by Dee’s reply. People like that are simply too selfish, self-absorbed and uninformed to be part of the solution. Their intellectual laziness is a health hazard for everyone else they come into contact with. It is sad, but not entirely surprising, unfortunately.
Mary Koonce says
Fantastic we’re going to save some lives.
Please refuse service, the repercussions are on you. As far as im concerned, or city government can move to Taiwan, and wear all the masks they want. OUT OF CONTROL!
Why can’t everybody see what they’re doing here. This has nothing to do with the non-existent epidemic, it’s about control. Get us used to the government controlling every aspect of our life. Don’t get woke, really wake up. When our freedoms are gone, there won’t be a place on the earth left that isn’t the joyless realm of elitist masters and us mindless, faceless, dare I say it, slaves.
Then stop using seat belts , when stopped just tell them about your freedoms.
Next : go visit disney or any other crowded venue and yell out “FIRE ” .
When being arrested let them know you were just protecting your freedom of speech !
You have a social security number assigned by the government, they have your name number and address, you have a cell phone where you could easily be tracked but masks is how the government is going to control you… masks…
Mike Cocchiola says
This is all good. The only effective way to fight this pandemic is to adhere to social distancing and to wear masks. Some day we’ll have a vaccine, but not today.
We have local ordinances addressing a multitude of issues, traffic safety comes to mind. If you speed down the side streets of Flagler Beach, a local ordinance gives the Flagler Beach PD the authority to write you a ticket. I could continue but I am sure you get my drift. Now, we have local jurisdictions writing ordinances with no enforcement provisions. So are these ordinances or orders simply something these local units of government have done to make themselves feel better? As written they are certainly not doing anything to protect the public. No enforcement means minimal compliance which leads to the ordinance/order failing in its intended purpose.
Just like our current administrations in Washington and Tallahassee, these local units have punted the issue down the line. Washington pushed it off on the states, Tallahassee pushed it off on the cities/counties who in turn have pushed it off on all the small businesses in their communities.
Here is our current situation; The XYZ Fish Market tries to comply with the local order and posts a sign saying “Masks Are Required To Enter” – Some ‘person’ with no mask comes along and enters the store. Now the high school kid at the checkout counter tells the person they need a mask – the person says things to the kid I will not repeat here. The clerk calls the manager who is told worse by the offending visitor. What now? The local enforcement agency is called and they say “not our problem” (ala Rick Staly). No enforcement provision, no penalty, no big deal except that our visitor is an asymptomatic carrier. Now two or three, maybe more are infected.
Oh you say hit them with ‘trespass’. Our sheriff will no more write someone on trespass than he will write a ticket for parking on the streets of Palm Coast or blowing a stop sign.
What on earth is it going to take for these elected officials to realize that no matter what Washington and Tallahassee are saying, this virus is not going anywhere soon. Advent has one ICU bed and 4 standard beds available today, we lost 120 Floridians today and another 9,000 were reported to have contracted the virus. If you pray, it’s time to start, if you don’t, it’s time to learn.
Thank you to all 3 cities, it is better than nothing.
Businesses should all have a sign on the door “No shoes, no shirt, no mask, NO SERVICE”. It doesn’t say in the Constitution that we have to wear a seat belt, to have a car insurance or not to smoke in public yet even the people with light intelligence are following the rules. When we smoked in public we endangered the people around us, so now we smoke in private, this is the same we are wearing a mask as not to endanger the people around us.
Grow up and wear a mask, we are in this together.
Why are the public schools only “urging” but not mandating students when in the school buildings?
People will complain but it is like regs related to smoking. NO Smoking to ensure the health of others. This is no different.
Trailer Bob says
So nothing has really changed because the politicians are afraid to do their jobs?
So here we are in the same situation. I believe I should wear a mask, but no one else does, so of I do wear one, I look like a the only paranoid baby in the place . I realize this is a tricky situation to deal with, but they could have at least put some responsibility on proprietors of the businesses to enforce it. Thanks for nothing elected officials.
Trailer Bob says
I’m in the exact same boat you are. I went to a bar tonight with a face shield in hand, but no one had a mask or shield, so I just put it on the bar so I wouldn’t look like a paranoid loser. It is the actions of those in charge that are making this a difficult issue for people like you and I, and there are many others who feel the exact same way.
Agree played a round of golf today at Grand Reserve and none of the employees wore masks. Stopped in for a beer afterwards and approx 20 customers many seniors were seated unmasked and not observing social distancing. The room is approx 2000 sg ft and is a Petrie dish for virus spread, beware dangerous environment. They have back patio which went unused, 15300 cases today and it’s business as usual, crazy!
You drive and drive and drive, see a brick wall, slam into it….then, hit the breaks.
People need to have their “mask” cover nose and mouth to be effectively ve. Wearing it around neck and earlobes only like a defiant teen doesn’t help them or others that they encounter.
Gary R says
Palm Coast whiners will still blame President Trump and Governor DeSantis even though they were saying wearing a mask or not are locale issues. Actually it is a personal issue.
To all the blindfolded…that big red pill is coming. It is a huge, and it will be difficult. No problem, the ones who are already awake will help you. We have been waiting to help you see. We’ll get through it.
I am with you, Ruth, to pass red pills. As a nurse, I know people need them more, than masks.
Smart move, now the County needs to get on board and make it mandatory in the County also. Please protect us citizens.
Does Florida still have a Governor?????? Just wondering because if we do he sure is ignoring what is going on in the State of Florida, he is not doing what he was elected to do and that is protect the citizens and now the children of this state.
His comment about if you can go to Walmart and HomeDepot children should go back to school. Unacceptable for a governor of any state.
Won’t wear a mask just like I don’t wear a seat belt. The major fact is the death toll. Flagler County has a total of 5 last I looked. The state has the lowest per population in the country. Our Governor is doing a great job and people just need to be informed about the true facts and not listen to the fake news padded numbers.
Steve Vanne says
Its not force able. Was in publix today saw many people without masks. Asked an employee why. Was told they don’t won’t any confrontation. Basically they don’t won’t to ruffle a paying customer.
Got a neighbor, MR Tough Guy, 45, I won’t wear a mask as it impacts his constitutional rights, well, MR Tough Guy is sick, and tested positive. 4th of July parties, which we stayed home. I look for more of these tough guys to come down with Covid.
Bet he doesn’t think it’s fake news now .
We have a self proclaimed war time president who is more like the activity director at summer camp . Where’s the next “super spreader “ Don ?
It is unenforceable PLAIN and SIMPLE! Some people will wear a mask and some will not. Maybe if every establishment would provide FREE masks and clean shopping carts at their front doors then maybe just maybe you will have a shot at having people use them while shopping in your stores. All I got to say to the people who are fretting about enforcement, Get a LIFE!
Freedom fighter says
If a pair of underwear and pants won’t stop a fart then a little mask isn’t going to stop covid-19. Get a life people stop trying to order me around like you own the place.
Christopher Lemke says
Great comment, Freedom Fighter! The virus comes in the form of an aerosol, with particles even smaller than smoke particles. The only solution is a full hazmat suit with self contained breathing apparatus. THAT might be fun for some of these hand wringers. Let’s give it a try.
Hammock Resident says
I do not feel safe in my local Publix with about 20 % of folks not wearing masks. Now that Palm Coast, Bunnell and Flagler Beach have made masks mandatory in public spaces, it is time for Flagler County to make masks mandatory in the unincorporated areas of the County. Masks reduce the risk but only if everyone is wearing them. I will start going to the Publix in Palm Coast if the Publix in the Hammock does not require folks to wear masks that enter the store. Lets hope within a short period of time, Flagler County Commissioners adopt the same policy, so masks are required throughout the County in public spaces. If infections are reduced by some amount, it is worth the inconvenience.
Took a ride today. (Did not get out of the car) went all over St Augustine. If you make money from tourist, good luck to you. Absolute empty. Then returned to Pc and drove through a Publix parking lot. I noticed a big change in the number of people wearing masks. Maybe we are waking up some. To me one thing is sure. When we look back at this, and we will, I think we will discover a ton of mis information. Cases are out of control yet school and Disney are coming. Like it was said “We can’t handle the truth”
More like “We don’t care about the truth “
Woke Citizen says
Is anyone aware of what a COVID death means? If you die and you tested positive for COVID-19.L, you “died” of COVID. Even if the cause is blatantly something else, like a car accident or gunshot;however, if you test positive it’s a COVID death, not the actual cause. The numbers are so inflated…. It’s a virus sooooo dangerous you have to get a test to know you have it…. Wake up people….
Paul Harrington says
As the Flagler Beach Commission spoke about a mandatory mask resolution everyone poked and pulled at their mask. At a recess Chief Doughney pulled his mask off while sitting next to and talking with the City Attorney. A mask is only good to a point. Kim Carney made the point we should determine where the virus is being spread the most.
Maybe we should just stop encouraging so many people to congregate in one spot? Spread out. How about Publix going back to normal hours so fewer people are shopping at one time? Just a thought.