Masks will again be required at indoor county facilities in Florida’s populous Miami-Dade following new federal guidance recommending that even people vaccinated against COVID-19 should wear facial coverings.
And in Orange County, home to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, the mayor went a step further and announced all 4,200 nonunion county employees will be required to get their first coronavirus vaccine shot by the end of August, and the second shot by the end of September. Disney World announced on its website Wednesday evening that beginning July 30, face coverings will be required for all guests ages 2 and up while indoors and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status. This includes upon entering and throughout all attractions. Face coverings remain optional in outdoor common areas.
“We want to keep our county and theme parks open for business,” Mayor Jerry Demings said at a news conference Wednesday. “By instituting these measures, we want everyone to know, in Orange County, Florida, we take the coronavirus seriously.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said her decision is a response to the surge in new cases and hospitalizations. The mayors didn’t announce any mandates for businesses but pleaded with them to help get their employees vaccinated and urged them to again implement the use of masks.
“We have all come too far. We have all sacrificed too much in this past almost year and a half. We cannot turn back now,” Levine Cava said.
A state law signed in May gives Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis the power to invalidate local emergency measures put in place during the pandemic, including mask mandates and limitations on business operations. It also bans any business or government entity from requiring proof of vaccination. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new local mandates.
For the more than 3,000 unionized workers in Orange County, Demings said officials were negotiating a similar vaccine requirement as nonunion employees. Some can be exempt for religious or health reasons, but others who fail to comply will face disciplinary action, Demings said.
Seriously, fuck Ron DeSantis:
During a Wednesday appearance at a conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which writes conservative legislation, DeSantis took in a mostly maskless audience and joked, “Did you not get the CDC’s memo? I don’t see you complying.”
The CDC, of course, announced on Tuesday that vaccinated people in areas with rising rates of COVID, such as Florida, may have to mask up again indoors. This is an annoyance at worst, but a handful of conservatives have reacted with flippancy, as DeSantis did, or with outrage. Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado reportedly threw a mask at a House staffer on Wednesday, after the chamber mandated masks again.
DeSantis’s jocular attitude is preferable, maybe, to Boebert’s belligerence. But he’s still a ghoul, and a selfish one at that. There is a pandemic, the Delta variant exists, and the science changes as the virus evolves. Most of us learn as children that sometimes we have to do things when we would prefer not to; COVID merely raises the lesson’s stakes. Others, however, would prefer to crack jokes about measures that could save lives.
Both of DeSantis’ opponents have been ripping him a new one. First, Rep. Charlie Crist (D. FL-13):
Democratic Representative Charlie Crist, a Florida gubernatorial candidate, slammed Republican Governor Ron DeSantis on Sunday for lacking “leadership” and visiting the Texas border during the state’s current COVID-19 surge.
During a campaign appearance in Broward County, Crist discussed Florida’s recent coronavirus spike and accused DeSantis of abandoning his pandemic duties.
“You know what’s happening. We have gone to the top. And it is a dubious distinction,” Crist said of the current rate of virus infections, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “And why is that? Because we don’t have leadership.”
“What’s he [DeSantis] doing about it? He’s going to Texas. He goes to the border. Texas. You’re the governor of Florida, you know,” Crist added. “He doesn’t understand. And you know he’s spending our tax dollars out there giving our law enforcement to Texas while people are dying in Florida. Unbelievable.”
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried took her aggressively pro-vaccine message to an unusual audience, buying time on the Fox News Channel to air a 30-second PSA on Friday.
Fried, a Democratic candidate for Governor, continues to draw contrasts between herself and incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis on advocacy for vaccines, and this ad buy was no exception.
“You won’t hear this on Fox News from Gov. DeSantis, but you need to,” Fried said in the video. “Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy and your family doctor all agree. Vaccines will save your life, your job and the economy.”
“Even Donald Trump recommends getting vaccinated,” Fried added, before likening the effort to get people vaccinated to World War II.
“Think about it. The greatest generation had to beat the Nazis to preserve our way of life,” Fried said. “You’re only asked to get a shot! So be a patriot, turn off the TV, and go get vaccinated.”
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