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Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry takes off his mask at a press conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis, May 2020.

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Jacksonville orders mask-wearing ahead of Republican National Convention

Better late than never? That’s Duval’s bet.

Jacksonville is due in less than two months to hold the Republican National Convention, and as late as Monday morning, there were no plans for a mask order.

But as positive testing rates surged yet again over 13% with Sunday’s results, the city made its move, finally issuing an indoor mask order after weeks of reluctance.

The order goes into effect at 5 PM Monday and applies throughout Duval County.

Mayor Lenny Curry passed on the Monday press conference, leaving it to staffers, such as Chief of Staff Jordan Elsbury, to announce the move that had been still up in the air as late as Monday morning, when hospital CEOs apparently pushed for an order.

Curry, said spokesperson Nikki Kimbleton, “had a very important prior family commitment” that precluded his attendance, despite the “very fluid decisions made this morning.”

Asked why Curry didn’t release a video putting his name and face to the initiative, given historic opposition, Kimbleton said that if Curry had “put out a video,” there would have been “no opportunity for media to ask questions and get answers.”

Elsbury said it was “irresponsible for media to message that the Mayor is absent for an announcement like this.”

Elsbury said the “recent adoption” of masks had no bearing on the RNC, “months away.”

While other cities, even as close as St. Augustine, issued orders previously, Mayor Curry stressed voluntary mask usage. Now, said Kimbleton, “masks in public places” will be required.

The willingness to impose a mask ban came after weeks of resistance from not just the city, but Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has said he believes mask bans are unenforceable and counterproductive.

However, Monday saw Gov. DeSantis issue a bland endorsement of the city’s decision.

Hospital capacity is still robust, claim city officials, but that clearly needed to be protected. Expect more testing throughout the city also. To take the burden off of Lot J, the former federal site now run by the state, Lot J’s testing site will be relocated.

Mobile testing at the beaches will be phased in, as well as more hub testing at six “hard locations.”

Elsewhere, 128 COVID-19 positive patients are in Duval County’s jail, down from 178, with testing and quarantining now part of the booking process. Additionally, some non-violent inmates may be released, including via sentence modification, to try to cut down jail exposure.

70 correctional officers have been quarantined, with 19 testing positive, said Sheriff Mike Williams.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Frankie M.

    June 29, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Where’s Lenny? Is Obama in town stumping for Joe?? Is this another emergency charter fishing boat situation?? Thoughts & prayers.

    Maybe they can put the beaches testing site at southern grounds coffee shop? That place looks like a petri dish. The only restaurant I’ve been too lately where none of the staff or customers wear masks and that’s including their San Marco location. Sure they have a hand made sign on the door at the beach which mentions social distancing but maybe now they’ll take their customer and employee safety seriously.

  2. Frankie M.

    June 29, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Them fish ain’t gonna catch thesselves!

  3. carlos Matamoros

    June 29, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    how many covid patients need to die to satisfy the traitor-in-chief’s need for a crowd yelling for his favorite lunacy

    Trump will die in jail

  4. Sonja Fitch

    June 29, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Better late than never!

  5. Frankie M.

    June 29, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    This announcement is all bark and no bite. It’s symbolic. There’s zero enforcement behind this. Warnings? How do you change anyone’s behaviors with warnings? Much ado about nuthin.

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