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County Commission may ask DeSantis for virtual meetings, mask mandate fines amid COVID-19 spike

Posted at 11:11 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 23:11:38-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Coronavirus cases in Leon County spiked more than 13,000 cases, becoming one of the top issues at Tuesday's Leon County Commission meeting.

With two new commissioners on the board, leaders considered urging Governor Ron DeSantis to take back his mandate of in-person government meetings.

"It's unquestionable that the main priority is COVID-19," said Carolyn Cummings, a Leon County commissioner.

On Monday, 102 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Leon County.

"I think the best things we can do to protect the citizens of our county is to continue to represent the right, the best public health guidance that we can," said Kristin Dozier, a Leon County commissioner.

A major part of that is relying on people to follow the county's ongoing mask mandate, even though it cannot be enforced. Something the County Attorney, Chasity O'Steen, said could change in a week.

The order prohibiting fines for not wearing masks would need to be extended by Gov. DeSantis; otherwise, it expires on November 24.

"I would ask if the chairman, administrator, and other health officials would possibly reconsider, given the flaring up that we're having nationwide if it's not wise for us to continue maintaining a virtual meeting for all of our safety," said Bill Proctor, a Leon County commissioner.

The commission voted to urge Gov. DeSantis to reinstate his Executive Order allowing virtual government meetings again. That resolution cites the current COVID-19 numbers and CDC data.

"As we do enter this cold season, more people will be indoors and in warm environments, and there will be an anticipated positivity rate," said Jimbo Jackson, a Leon County commissioner.

If Gov. DeSantis' Executive Order is not extended past Nov. 24, the county will decide whether to reinstate collecting fines in the mask ordinance.