The Sixth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Anthony Rondolino has issued an administrative order that will return the courtroom to a mask mandate.
According to the administrative order, the call to return to a mask requirement came as a result of the growing spread of COVID-19, especially the Delta variant.
“Due to the increased cases of COVID-19, including the rise of the Delta variant, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided updated face mask guidance for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” the order reads.
The order also references the current caseload in the state and the counties covered by the circuit.
In the latest weekly report, the Florida Department of Health recorded 110,477 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on July 29, up from 73,196 new cases from the prior week’s report (July 16). The positivity rate during this same time rose from 15.1% to 18.1%.
The new case positivity rate for Pasco County was 22.5%, up from 18.5%. The new case positivity rate for Pinellas County for the same time was 16.7%, up from 14.1%.
“CDC guidance is that in an area of high or substantial transmission, such as Florida at the present time, all adults should wear a face mask in indoor public places,” the order reads. “The health, safety, and well-being of our employees and participants in court proceedings are a high priority and we must continue to take steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in court facilities.”
The mask requirement comes in response to an administrative order from the Florida Supreme Court that called on lower courts to decide if local health conditions warranted COVID-19 health protocols, like mask mandates. That order also requires that a face mask be provided upon request to a
participant or observer in the courtroom.
The Florida Supreme Court issued the order in response to the latest declaration of a national public health emergency and change in health guidance by the CDC.