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Leon County Commission exploring how to better enforce social distancing guidelines

Posted at 5:44 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 23:17:20-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A spike in coronavirus cases in Leon County has commissioners discussing what can be done to further stop this spread.

The next move for the board is looking into how to further enforce wearing masks and the gathering of large crowds particularly with the return of college students.

Health director Claudia Blackburn told the commission Tuesday that 76 percent of cases have been in the 15 to 24 age range for the past few weeks.

With case numbers on local college campuses trending up commissioners say they are concerned things are heading in the wrong direction.

"I was horrified," said Mary Ann Lindley, a county commissioner.

Commissioners Dozier and Lindley both spoke out about cracking down on the student population, referencing images and videos on social media that show large crowds without masks.

"It's been six months since we've been doing this and here we are again chasing our tail," said county commissioner Kristin Dozier. "So what's our plan going forward? How can we regulate masks at a business and not at a large gathering of 20,000 people at a stadium?"

The county attorney said many of those videos showing crowds posted to social media were on private property and the enforcement of the county ordinance on face masks and crowds does not cover private places like apartment complexes or even Doak Campbell Stadium.

"They spill beyond the gates of Doak Campbell stadium," Lindley said. "Instantly we see them everywhere and I think that we should pursue it as much as we possibly can to make a statement that this is not acceptable."

Those large gatherings catching the attention of many people over the game day weekend.

"We have to work with our community partners to make sure we don't have large gatherings at the apartment complexes and around pools," Mayor John Dailey said.

The county says they are in constant contact with all three colleges on plans to further reduce the spread of COVID-19.

FSU's randomized testing program began Monday, and voluntary testing continues to be offered at the Tucker Civic Center. Social distancing and mandatory have been implemented on campus.

"Please wear your mask, practice social distancing," said Dailey. "Let's be smart, let's be safe and as a result, we'll be able to move on as a society. But if we continue to see the spread that we're seeing and the spikes that we're seeing then we're going to regroup and make a decision for what's best in the community."

The commission passed a motion unanimously for staff to bring back information and recommendations on how to enforce social distancing measures at the next commission meeting.

Until then city and county leaders are pleading with students to think of others.