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Commissioner Nikki Fried.

2020

Nikki Fried worries Jacksonville mask order won’t last until RNC

Doubt from Democrat Fried over Jacksonville’s intentions.

As easily as a local mask order can be imposed, it can also be lifted, warned Florida’s leading Democrat on CNN Monday night.

Nikki Fried, the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, raised the possibility that Jacksonville, which imposed a mask order Monday, could lift it before the Republican National Convention in late August.

“For a while, even the Mayor of Jacksonville said it wasn’t going to happen,” Fried said on Anderson Cooper 360 Monday.

“Who knows if it’s actually going to stay in place for the RNC? He could actually override it beforehand,” Fried said of Jacksonville’s second-term Republican Mayor, Lenny Curry.

Fried urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue a statewide mask order, which the Governor has repeatedly said he won’t do.

But her comments spotlight an essential ambivalence about Jacksonville’s decision to impose a mask order, one that was presented as ad hoc and issued in a rare press conference where the Mayor, a fan of television exposure, was absent.

Speaking to Fried’s point further, a senior Curry staffer already said the “recent adoption” of masks had no bearing on the RNC, “months away.”

Curry, said spokesperson Nikki Kimbleton on Monday, “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.”

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

The willingness to impose a mask order came after weeks of resistance on the local level, with the Mayor stressing voluntary compliance. However, events have proven that voluntary compliance hasn’t stemmed the transmission rates, with a positive test rate flirting with 15%.

Though Curry and DeSantis have stressed the younger median age of patients, that stat took a turn in figures released Tuesday, with the median age now 36 years old for the most recent batches of positive tests.

Written By

A.G. 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 AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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