A Florida sheriff banned Marion County deputies from wearing face masks in most situations Wednesday, despite a continuing surge of coronavirus cases across the state. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods insisted that there is no evidence that wearing face masks limits the spread of COVID-19, despite overwhelming scientific proof and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Now, I can already hear the whining and just so you know I did not make this decision easily and I have weighed it out for the past 2 weeks,” Woods wrote in a staff memo. “We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t.” The ban applies to all 900 of the sheriff’s department employees across the county, as well as civilians who enter department buildings.
Under the directive, deputies must still wear masks in hospitals, courts, nursing homes, schools, and jails.