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Ron DeSantis wears a face mask as he listens during a news conference at a COVID-19 testing site at Hard Rock Stadium. Image via AP.

Coronavirus in Florida

Democratic congressional delegation urges Governor to issue statewide mandatory mask order

Surgeon General Scott Rivkees is already advising all Floridians wear masks in public.

Florida’s full Democratic congressional delegation authored a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis advocating for a statewide mandatory mask order in public spaces.

“As positive cases surge and hospitalizations increase, it is imperative that you take data-driven action to help protect Floridians, our families, and our communities from the dangers of COVID-19,” the members wrote.

The move comes as Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued an advisory recommending Floridians wear masks in public. Such an advisory is not mandatory, however.

“As restrictions have eased, Florida has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 infections,” Rep. Donna Shalala said.

“Wearing a face mask is scientifically proven to help reduce the risk of spreading this disease. Gov. DeSantis has repeatedly mentioned that people must take a measure of personal responsibility during this pandemic. I hope that he will feel that same sense of responsibility to keep Florida safe by requiring masks to be worn in public statewide.”

Joining Shalala on that letter were U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Ted Deutch, Val Demings, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.

Florida’s Democratic congressional delegation has been critical of DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 outbreak from the get-go.

Now, as a troubling trend in cases has arisen in recent weeks, Democrats again argue DeSantis is not acting quickly enough.

“First, Gov. DeSantis was too slow to acknowledge community spread had hit Florida and dragged his feet on urging residents to stay at home. Then DeSantis rushed the state into a re-opening, with no regard for a resurgence like we’re seeing now,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“We’re sounding the alarm for the Governor to end this parade of mistakes and issue a mandatory order to all residents that they need to wear masks in public. The Governor must end his ‘nothing to see here’ approach and put public health over political pandering to his base.”

The delegation’s letter is more diplomatic, pushing the Governor to follow the lead of several local jurisdictions which have instituted mandatory mask orders.

“Wearing masks can help people feel more secure in their everyday activities, and play a role in safely re-opening the economy,” the letter continues.

“While some communities throughout the state have adopted regulations requiring masks, the virus does not know or adhere to delineations of city or county. Floridians need strong, universal guidance from you during this time of uncertainty. We need to hear from you, clearly and unequivocally, that wearing a mask in public is a requirement.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to

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