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Florida group holds mask-burning protest in response to re-extended facial covering mandate

Florida group holds mask-burning protest in response to re-extended facial covering mandate
Posted at 11:02 AM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-26 11:05:05-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — The re-extension of a facial covering directive in Palm Beach County, Florida is being called "medical tyranny" by some opponents who took to the streets Saturday afternoon in Delray Beach to display their frustrations.

Chris Nelson, the lead organizer of the "Reopen South Florida" rally, points to statistics that show the county's mortality rate has fallen.

"What we're seeing right now is a dangerous precedent," Nelson said. "If they can tell me that I cannot buy or sell anything without a mask on, they can tell me that I can't buy or sell without proof of a vaccine, that I took a vaccine, and it could go on and on."

During Tuesday's presentation to county commissioners, Dr. Alina Alonso, head of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, told commissioners there are encouraging signs when it comes to the county's COVID-19 positivity rate, which has decreased over the past two weeks. Additionally, there have been no coronavirus-related deaths since Oct. 7.

However, she cautioned that 50% of new cases in the county are people ages 35 to 64. The new facial covering extension is in effect until Nov. 22.

"The mortality is going down, but we don't know what the residual impact is going to be on people, whether the damage to their lungs is going to be long-term," Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth said Tuesday.

According to the CDC, studies have shown that the use of masks has been proven to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The agency recommends that anyone over the age of two wear a mask, excluding those with conditions that would make wearing them difficult.

Even still, "Reopen South Florida" marched for blocks down Atlantic Avenue to the song "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister in a display of opposition.

"Probably half of the medical doctors and (doctors of osteopathic medicine) that are against the research, that have no clue why we're in lockdowns, that are against quarantining, and there are about 50% that are for it," Dr. Matt McNabb said.

The march ended with a mask-burning ceremony at the Delray Beach Pavilion. But people like Pasquale Catania still worries the mask debate has too much political influence.

"We need to keep these masks on until a solution, until we have an actual cure, until it's proven," Catania said. "You know, it's too early."

"Reopen South Florida" wants Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to take control of the situation and block county commissioners on any more extensions.

This story was originally published by Arthur Mondale on WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering