Flagler County Health Department Administrator Bob Snyder on Thursday said that whether vaccinated or not, students indoors should be wearing masks when they return to school on Aug. 10.
Snyder’s unequivocal declaration stresses similar recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and physicians at AdventHealth. But the school district is proceeding with masking only on a voluntary basis. Broward County schools, in defiance of the governor’s stance, declared this week that it would require mandatory masking and pressure builds on other districts to do likewise. But the governor is threatening to call a special session of the Legislature to rewrite the law and statutorily forbid districts from imposing masking requirements.
“Flagler County Schools is making a terrible mistake by not mandating masks,” said Dr. Paul Mucciolo, who heads AdventHealth Palm Coast’s emergency department, has been on its covid front lines from the start of the pandemic, and has two children of his own “who would be vulnerable under the current plan” he said. “They should really open up remote learning as well. Bob Snyder is spot on.”
Children 10 and younger are less likely to transmit the disease, and older children, while just as likely as adults to transmit, are far less likely to develop complications from the coronavirus, though illnesses and some hospitalizations are occurring among the young. The particular concern is that children, while not at great risk of severe illnesses or death, act as equal conduits of the disease, infecting adults who are at much greater risk of complications and death. While there are no calls to revert to school closures, masking and social distancing significantly reduces the incidence of transmission.
Publicly, schools and local governments have maintained throughout the pandemic that they follow local public health recommendations. In fact, the relationship has been more advisory, and Snyder himself has been cautious about treading further ahead of a curve that would more clearly unravel the health department’s impotence in directing public health measures, however soundly based in evidence–and in contradiction with governor edicts.
Snyder spoke on a day when Flagler set yet another record of covid infections and as AdventHealth Palm Coast set its own record of covid admissions, at 60, resulting late Thursday evening in an unprecedented declaration from the hospital system affecting its 16 hospitals in Central Florida, including AdventHealth Palm Coast: the system is on “Black Status,” curtailing most surgeries and revamping operations to focus on covid cases. Black Status is in effect at least through Aug. 4, according to a letter to physicians by Advent’s Neil J. Finkler, the system’s chief clinical officer.
Surgeries are to be limited to emergency impatient cases only. Only time-sensitive or urgent outpatient surgeries will be performed. All outpatient procedures are deferred. Support services such as labs will continue, as will attending to emergency cases such as strokes and heart attacks, while time-sensitive emergencies will be conducted only with pre-approval. “Emergent pediatric surgeries can proceed. However, time sensitive/urgent cases require oversight by chief medical officer/campus department chair,” Finkler’s letter stated.
“With the highly contagious Delta variant driving the spread of COVID-19, this remains a very fluid situation,” he wrote. “We know you and our entire workforce are exhausted from the additional pressures of the on-going pandemic and have endured unimaginable challenges. Thank you for your dedication to patient care and your efforts to help manage capacity and admissions.”
In a press release issued late Thursday, Finkler was quoted as saying that “Cases continue to rise sharply with no sign that the surge is beginning to decelerate,” and that the new status “will help us create more resources for our clinical teams, and ensure that we can continue to care for our community.” The release does not directly address the capacity question at hospitals, saying that “the reason we are adjusting our status is to ensure we have capacity in the future,” and that hospitals have flexibility, being part of a network. Clearly, however, with Thursday’s tally of 60 covid patients at AdventHealth Palm Coast alone, where the hospital has a total normal capacity of 130 beds, the crisis is unprecedented.
“We’re approaching, in Flagler County, approaching the kind of conditions that New York City faced last year,” Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director at the Flagler Health Department, said this morning on WNZF. “Flagler’s hospital has never been in Black Status throughout the pandemic. Black Status is sort of like crisis, all systems go, everything dedicated to trying to just keep things from going crazy and it’s hard to convey this to people because it just seems that we thought we were out of this. I’m just alerting people, I mean, there’s real danger out there, the chances of getting Covid are really high.”
Flagler County is on pace to record 700 infections this week alone, with a record 139 recorded on Thursday. When the school district issued its new protocols for the school year that begins Aug. 3 for teachers and Aug. 10 for students, masking in schools, mandatory last year, was still to be voluntary this year, with buses running at full capacity and the district opening its campuses with in-person learning only (with the exception of the virtual school option).
Snyder said he was unaware of the district changing course. “All I know,” he said, referring to David Bossardet, the district’s point man on covid procedures, is “that he indicated to me that they would be continuing to stay in contact with us, and that they would be open to changing their policy and procedures should it be warranted. And I’m assuming that they would be open to discussions if things continue to get worse. We will be available. Dr. Bickel and I to render our opinions when asked. Bickel is the medical director at the Flagler County Health Department.
Asked directly what his current opinion was regarding masking in schools, Snyder was clear: “My opinion now is that because of the severity of the Delta variant and being 50 to 60 percent more transmissible, even to the point where vaccinated people can transmit the Delta variant, and we’re seeing the results of its impact in this data, whether it’s hospital data or number of cases, surging on a daily basis, I certainly favor the CDC recommendation that if you’ve been vaccinated or not, that you still should take precautions with respect to social distancing and wearing a mask when you’re indoors, especially when you’re in congregate settings, where there’s a lot of people. Absolutely.”
But local governments have not been consulting with Snyder, as they had in previous waves during the pandemic–a silence that in itself speaks volume about the indifference of local governments, reflected in community indifference, especially among the unvaccinated, in Flagler County at large. (Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt has been on vacation this week. Bobby Bossardet, an assistant superintendent, was expected to address the topic in an appearance on WNZF’s Free For All Fridays this morning. But a district spokesman said there was no reconsideration of masking rules for now.)
Snyder’s comments were echoes of similar urging by AdventHealth physicians who spoke during a briefing on Thursday.
“It seems logical,” Dr. Vincent Hsu, executive director of infection prevention and epidemiologist at AdventHealth, said. “Someone who’s not vaccinated even now with our indoor mandates that masking is a very reasonable approach decreased transmission in our, in our school system.
Dr. Michael Cacciatore, chief medical officer of the AdventHealth Medical Group, was also categorical: “The CDC, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, have made recommendations that, again, regardless of vaccination status, every school child, teacher should wear a mask. We recognize that there’s a significant number of children under 12 who are unable to get vaccinated and again with some of the transmission issues that we have seen in fully vaccinated children and adults, that risk is always there. So we advocate the positions of our public health authorities, of our scientific societies, and would follow the recommendations to to have our schoolchildren masked.”
J R says
Mask our children!! It’s apparent that our Governor does not care about the safety of our state!!
DESANTIS CARES ABOUT HIS POLITAL FUTURE NOT OUR CHILDRENS FUTURE!
David Schaefer says
Totally agree. DeathSantis has been this way since he got elected. Can’t wait till he is voted out.
Don’t say the word mask, don’t even write it on the board around gov trump jr jr . He and the legislature will pass and sign a bill into law outlawing the use of masks.
John Carilli says
Please show any legitimate Proof Masks work.. You can not publish such because it does not exist. The diameter of coronavirus is smaller than what an N95 Mask can filter. You are kidding yourself if you believe otherwise.
The commenter is flatly wrong. Here’s a brief from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that lists 22 peer-reviewed studies proving the effectiveness of masks: “The effectiveness of face masks to prevent SARS CoV-2transmission: A summary of the peer-review science.”
Again, do not use this site to spread false and misleading information. If you persist, you will be banned.
For every study for there is one against… I am surprised that google even lets you find this but there are many more….
Isn’t your post misleading since there are studies that show the opposite? Report them both… let people to their own investigation, consult with their doctors and make a decision.
I myself am vaccinated, I myself wore a mask when I needed prior to begin vaccinated…. my choice to put in a vaccine in my body that the FDA has not yet approved. What are those long term affects.
By the way has the administration started vaccinating the people pouring over the border. Just to be clear not the legal points of entry, but entering the country illegally. How are we to take this admin serious when they allow in the un-vaccinated and ship them across the country.
Infection Control says
One could ask what is the long term effect of being unvaccinated and getting COVID 19. We already have that answer. Ask one of the COVID long haulers or someone who lost a loved one due to COVID?
Who knows in 10 years I might grow an extra limb but I won’t be dead.
Whataboutism at its finest.
Palm Coast Citizen says
Did you actually read the study that crazy article referenced? The actual study says:
“. Face masks are a plausible means to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses by minimizing the risk that respiratory droplets will reach wearers’ nasal or oral mucosa. Face masks are also hypothesized to reduce face touching (8, 9), but frequent face and mask touching has been reported among health care personnel (10). Observational evidence supports the efficacy of face masks in health care settings (11, 12) and as source control in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 or other coronaviruses (13).”
Maria Darcy says
Flagler Live…Our primary care doctor, in Palm Coast , told us that wearing a mask is “Covid theater” he then told us to focus on ideal weight, movement, healthy eating.
A doctor right out of Molière.
Mary Koonce says
Bill C says
The virus is encapsulated within air borne droplets, which even the cheap masks can filter out. Also, they protect against sending droplets air borne if an infected person sneezes.
Bill C says
ps the important thing is to wear the mask properly- you must cover your nose as well as your mouth and make sure you bend the little wire to fit snugly around your nose. Sounds repetitive, but I’ve seen so many people wearing their masks improperly.
Li'l ol Me says
My son attended school on site for the second semester. He has never been so sick. It was constant. He CANNOT and WILL NOT be attending school on site if masks are mandated. Like-minded parents are considering setting up home-schooling pods. Everyone else can believe what they want. This was experienced first hand. This craziness has to stop.
a million to one go back to your bunker.Its a mask not poison. Hope your kids ok SMH
No Political Affiliation says
What’s the point of sending your children to school if you aren’t listening to the advice of the educated? Please don’t threaten the public with a good time, go create your own homeschool pod.
The dude says
I’m exactly opposite.
My daughter attended Old Kings all year last year. Wore a mask the entire time. Didn’t have so much as a sniffle all year. Which is unusual in itself as she has asthma and usually gets bronchitis once or twice a year around the season changes.
Unless something significant happens in the next ten days, she will not be attending Old King’s.
And we’re seriously considering just taking the profit from our canal home and moving somewhere where they believe in science.
richard A fletcher says
HIS LIFE IS IN YOUR HANDS. THIS IS A FOOLISH MISTAKE.
Li'l ol Me says
Yes, my hands and God’s hands. I want to keep it that way.
Frank Novak says
Thank you for sharing let’s all play it smart and wear a mask 😷
“It seems logical”? What is the goal? Stop a virus that is like the flu in kids and healthy young adults? What exactly is the science leading the control freaks to this being necessary? Facts without politics please. These new restrictions will not entice more people get the vaccine. These new restrictions will not endear the government to Americans.
Mandatory mask is school is a no bariner! Mandatory masks in the whole county is a no brainer! We just has the so called governor here breathing mask less on our children. What a useless harmful wreck to our county!. Whose bright idea was it to host that baseball competition? Keep our children out of your politics and cancel all youth sports!
Concerned Citizen says
Wear those masks folks.
At least until this is over. My wife is a PA fighting on the front lines of this pandemic. If we do our part it makes her part easier. Your perceived notion of freedom doesn’t out weigh the right of others to live. Doubt Covid isn’t real? Go volunteer in a hospital if they will let you. and see what is going on. Our own Advent health just went to Code Black with patients in hall ways.
This is no longer a game. And I’m personally tired of the political rhetoric. Come at me if you want but it’s time we do the right thing to flatten this. The longer we take to do right the longer it takes to recover.
The dude says
Between our tax dollars being used to pay for the hospitalization of uninsured, and higher health insurance premiums as a result of hospitalization of the insured, all the science hating rubes and dullards are imposing unnecessary cost on those of us who actually care about our families and community.
Mary Koonce says
Masks save lives.Period.Never have I seen such stupidity in my life.
The Voice Of Reason says
desantis is worried if the children are masked they won’t be able to drink their beers. He is a piece of crap gov that only cares about $$$, not constituents health and safety. Seriously, the vast majority of non maskers and their so called leaders made this political and it’s stupidly about owning the libs A glaring example of the republican party being a stinky burning dumpster fire. trump lit the match.
Trailer Bob says
One of those “Damned if I do, Damned if I don’t” moments.
On top of that…Florida is not one of the easiest places to get in line with the wearing a mask concept.
Seems you are either a fool or a fairy…just can’t win.
Even with the vaccine we are still considered the walking dead…STILL an interesting show though…the Walking Dead that is.
Who cares who what thinks. Wear a mask its easy. Its more damned if you dont IMO. People will do what they will. I made it this far not going out from something preventable or at least do my part for myself
Trailer Bob says
Steve, I meant damned if you do, damned if you don’t with regard to there being two sides of logic (or unlogic), as in regardless of one’s choice of wearing a mask in public or not wearing a mask in public, one side or the other will find your choice wrong.
Bottom line…it is more reasonable to err on the side of not getting infected. I am 65 years old, but very health and pretty immune to sickness since I was 13. Never been sick since then. But that doesn’t mean I don’t hope to live another few decades…at least.
I love living in Flagler County, but I have never, in any of the many places I have lived, seen more low intelligence people in such a small population. But there are also more decent people…they just don’t make as much noise as the nutjobs.
Heed this warning says
Dear leaders in the city of Palm Coast, Health Department Chief, CEO of Advent Health, Flagler Co. Schools,
You must do the right thing and protect the citizens of this city. The Governor of Fl is a politician not a Physician and as such should Not be making crucial decisions affecting the health of adults and children of this community. His decisions are politically motivated and his claims are false. Masks do not harm children. They do not inhibit a normal exchange of O2 and Co2.
You need to stand up and do the right thing. The Governor is not a king. You all will end up on the wrong side of history if you fail to make the correct decision.
Masks must be a mandate in all schools in this county and furthermore in all buildings.
There will me more variants due to those who refuse the vaccination and masking. This isn’t over. Prepare yourselves and the people in Flagler County and be at the ready to do everything in your power to stop the spread. Conversely, you could just all roll over on your backs and lamely allow the worst to happen.
Citizens of Flagler county need to face reality, get their facts from science and medicine. It’s ok if you’re having trouble facing the harsh reality of what’s happening but face it you must and not with falsehoods and conspiracy theories. Talk to your Doctors, get vaccinated and wear a mask. Deal with the fact that this is a public health crisis and each citizen has an obligation to each other and to our children.
Just do it.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
It doesn’t matter whether you’re local or foreign – if you’re a woman and you’re in Saudi Arabia, flashing an inch of flesh is a criminal act. Muslim women are required to wear a niqab and long black cloak called an abaya.
De Santis would be loved by women in many Muslim countries – especially where Burkas are required.
Just imagine him ‘ordering’ no face or body coverings for women in Saudi Arabia. I am sure he would be elected for life there.
(If you think you are getting sick from your mask try changing it or washing it)
If you prefer to risk my life because you refuse to wear a mask then please get the hell out of Flagler County or stay home. There is NOTHING in the constitution giving DeSantis to make decisions regarding our health, nor is there anything in the constitution which says you have the ‘right’ to not care about anyone else’s life but your own nor allows you to decide whether or not to wear a removable mask!
What saddens me and sickens me is the refusal , by some of my own friends, to try to take every measure available to TRY to kill this enemy before it kills us.
Everyone needs to do what is best for themselves. If that means being vaccinated – great; if that means wearing a mask – great. If you choose to do no neither that is also your privilege. We can not control what other people do, say or believe, however; we can avoid them if we think our safety is in jeopardy.
Instead of making this a political issue, do what is best for you and your family as there will never be 100% compliance on either side . Name calling, threats etc do nothing but take away from the real issues.
Deborah Coffey says
Get off the fence, Al. The unvaccinated are not only killing themselves, they’re killing other people. It isn’t right. We DO live in a society and, as such, have a responsibility to our neighbors.
The problem is, it will eventually effect us all again if these selfish individuals don’t get vaccinated. The virus could mutate to a varient that the vaccine won’t work on. Then it’s square one for everyone. That’s the problem!!!!
Just saying says
The problem with this is that I do need to go out occasionally to buy food or clothes and many times people who are unmasked (and possibly unvaccinated) choose to stand directly behind me in line, or beside me. Sometimes there is little space to move away. I could risk politely asking the person to step back but in these crazy days I have no way of knowing what kind of response I might receive. Please just go back to requiring masks at businesses so folks can shop safely.
We are at war with an invisible enemy. Our available weapon to try to evade this enemy is above all the vaccine which brilliant scientists have developed. Medical professionals wear 1-2 masks, faces shield, gloves, hazmat suit if available with air protection, for many hours when treating patients. The average citizen is only being implored to cover their nose and mouth. Thank you Pierre for keeping emphasis on this subject.
Governor Desantis will issue an executive order prohibiting local school boards from forcing mask mandates on children. He’s leaving the decision up to the parents. My God the Horror. I wonder how many of your readers will pull their children out of school, quit their jobs and start teaching them from home? Probably most of them. But don’t worry. The rest of us will keep working so you can get paid to sit home and teach your kids about freedom.
Deborah Coffey says
And, you will be risking your life…maybe even losing it. You’re free to do so but it’s the height of selfishness.
Irwin M. Fletcher says
It would seem that as long as we are all not working in one direction for control or eradication, we will continue to let this pandemic control us. We need to face the fact that COVID 19 is a moving target and collectively work for a resolution. Is it that difficult to follow some basic guidelines to keep us healthy? Folks we are all in this together, COVID doesn’t care what you look like, how you vote or what your ideals are. Let’s stop with the nonsense and focus on our future, we all have one common enemy right now. Stop with the unproductive rhetoric and focus on end game.
Trailer Bob says
Sounds pretty reasonable to me Irwin. I am sort of in the middle on all this. I keep a distance from others, except my wife…lol. But who the hell wants to be sick? It isn’t that difficult to protect oneself and others. You don’t have to wear a spacesuit. Just don’t get in my face (distance). The virus is also control by gravity in doors, so it isn’t that difficult to distance a bit…doesn’t have to be 10 feet.
Another issue is of us self-employed people…we can’t call in sick. We have to work and continue to make money.
Ya all stay safe out there…
For a political party that loves to preach about personal responsibility these Republicans sure are acting irresponsibly. Instead of whining about every little thing, they should practice what they preach. They can cry. They can stomp their feet. They can hold their breath until they turn blue. But God forbid they do anything constructive to help their constituents.
Once again it is not a political issue. Both sides have issues — What about a plane load of unmasked democrats, that now have tested positive ??
Mary Koonce says
Having heard of many of them. Actually red states have been proving to be anti vaxers
Make sure to wash your hands too.
JK Howling says
The mask is only one part of a three pronged attack on this virus. We still need to be staying the hell away from each other and if you haven’t contracted the virus already or are old or have an immune deficiency then get the damn vaccine. At this point just get the vaccine period. Get the viral vector J&J if you feel uncomfortable with the mRNA science.
But I suspect we’re all going to learn the hard way, as is the norm for Americans throughout history since we’re a reactionary society, that we’re about to get smacked in the mouth again come October if we don’t lock down and take all three phases seriously. This virus is mutating, and it’s taking healthy people with it now, just like the pandemic of 1918 did. The difference is in 1918 the virus spread so rapidly in America that herd immunity was achieved in short order and it didn’t have time to mutate from various parts around the world. Today, we’re global. This delta variant didn’t come from Flagler county. It came from Europe. There will be other mutations that we send away and that come our way. If we don’t stay the f**k away from each other! I miss my grandbabies just as much as you do! But I also don’t want to see them sick or worse yet six feet under.
I’m not getting on a plane. I’m not standing in line at a restaurant. I’m not getting on a cruise ship. I’m not getting on a subway. I’m not going to a Jags game.
In this order people:
1. Get vaccinated.
2. Back the f**k up! (I wouldn’t mind this forever and ever. Stop crowding me you disgusting smelly pig!)
3. If you must gaggle together, wear a mask.
Do these and the virus will be gone by October. Don’t and another 50k Americans will die by then with an upward trajectory for another dark winter. Mask or no mask on kids in school. Regardless, Governor DeSh*thead will not be controlling MY destiny, nor the destiny of MY kids.
By the way, how many of you were at that Freedom Fest? Did you see (and smell) that? Knowing the demographic and political makeup of Flagler county, I’d bet 50% weren’t vaccinated, and not a mask in sight. So now here we are a couple weeks later. Surprise!
You send your child to school with a bullet proof backpack, where they participate in active shooter drills. But you complain about your child having to wear a mask to protect them.
You gotta be kidding!!!
Trailer Bob says
By the way…I am a conservative republican, and there is NOTHING conservative about playing stupid with regards to this or any flu. I didn’t make it this far being stupid, but some of the stupid will not make it this far.
David Schaefer says
Interesting that 44% of white republicans are unvaccinated…….
I for one got sick half way through the school year for over a week, wasn’t COVID cause I already had it before and tested negative for it and the Flu, the doctor legitimately said “Your health has dramatically dropped since masks have been mandatory.” As I was forced by my school to wear it for over 7 hours a day, then every time I was in the store or a business, and only having about 3 hours of my day without mask on before bed, I got COVID right when it began, passed it with meds and the classic sweat it out method, 2 weeks and it was gone. Haven’t gotten it in the passed 2 years since, but got sicker than hell after 2nd semester happened, haven’t worn those stupid things since, and I’ve been perfectly healthy and said by my doctor I’ve gotten way better since. Will NOT be wearing a mask in school cause it harmed my physical health.
Then find a job that doesn’t require one, that way our safety and education both improve in your absence
Cheers have a good one karen :)
Thanks to DeSantis I will be returning to school without one so guess you’re gonna have to lock your kids at home, cause there will never be a mandate again in schools. Good luck out there killing your immune system with the masks!
You are high on misinformation. Put it down walk away
I’m in control of my decisions. My life my decision. Can’t blame Fepubs or Dems. My life.
I still need to know why Flagler County Middle schools allow all solid color shirts except purple. Why not purple? There are far more studies debunking the efficacy of a school uniform in the effort to improve student performance than there are studies suggesting masks don’t work, yet we parents scour the stores for low-cost shirts with collars. And what’s up with purple? I need to know so that I can move on in life!
The so-called studies that people often cite to argue against mask wearing are often taken out of context .There was one often cited study which only compared medical masks to cloth masks and found medical masks more effective, of course, but headlines followed, “cloth masks increase risk of respiratory illness.” The Danish Study that is often cited is almost NEVER actually read by people citing it from misleading bloggers–and even in the study, it says that the focus was not particularly on source control, which is exactly the reason people are interested in requiring masks! The authors go on to recommend wearing masks to mitigate spread of COVID!
Please do a short article on why middle schoolers can wear any color except purple, though. Like, they can wear fuchsia, sea green, blood red, brown…but not purple? Any solid color but purple. Why not purple?