'Stay vigilant': Florida Agriculture Commissioner calls for statewide mask requirement

With thousands of additional COVID-19 cases being added each day in Florida, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called Thursday for a statewide requirement that people wear masks in public places.

Many local governments have approved mask requirements as the number of cases has surged this month, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has declined to issue a statewide order.

Fried, the only Democrat on the state Cabinet, has been highly critical of the Republican governor’s handling of the pandemic.

In a prepared statement Thursday, Fried described a statewide mask requirement as “common sense” and pointed to other states that have imposed such requirements.

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“Everybody should be wearing masks,” Fried told The News Service of Florida this week. “We know that the masks are not going to stop the spread, but it certainly will slow it down. We also need to reinforce that COVID is not behind us. So, everybody needs to stay vigilant. Everybody needs to continue social distancing.”

The Florida Department of Health on Thursday, reported an additional 5,004 COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 114,018. The department also reported 46 additional deaths, bringing the death toll from the disease to 3,327.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.