Palm Beach County requires masks worn in public buildings

PALM BEACH COUNTY — The breaking news on Tuesday afternoon, June 23, was a somewhat uncertain announcement from the Palm Beach County government that masks or facial coverings are now required under county ordinance in buildings open to the public in Palm Beach County.

County staff members were quick to post several informational videos on the county’s official Facebook and other county web pages, and other departments were beginning to follow suit, including the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

But there was some initial confusion over what effects exactly this edict might have on various businesses, and the order is to be clarified later, whenever officials figure all that out.

At least one scheduled gathering in the Glades region of the county has been canceled due to the abrupt rise in COVID-19 cases documented by health officials in recent days.

District 6 County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay posted on her Facebook page on Monday, June 22: “Unfortunately, due to the continual increase in reported COVID cases, including those who are asymptomatic but testing positive, it is the community’s best health interest to not host this gathering, (Community Meeting scheduled for United Missionary Baptist Church) even with precautions. As such, the Wednesday, June 24 meeting is canceled.”
The news of the county’s requiring masks was first heard in the Glades region either via the county’s TV Channel 20 (as the county commissioners met today), one of the coastal TV channels or Facebook, but “Brother Church” posted on his newsy Facebook page this message:

“Today Palm Beach County commissioners met on whether or not masks should be mandatory in Palm Beach County. Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, said COVID-19 cases have ‘risen very, very rapidly’ since Palm Beach County entered Phase One of Florida’s reopening plan on May 11.
“Dr. Alonso also said, ‘Our numbers are going in the wrong direction.’ Dr. Alonso also stated that Palm Beach County is ‘above where we are supposed to be’ under health guidelines. ‘We have got to get these numbers down.’
“County commissioners voted that facial coverings are now mandatory in public buildings in Palm Beach County for at least the next four months. Officers will be given masks by the county so that during their initial confrontation they can offer a mask instead of automatically issuing a ‘civil citation.’ This decision came after hours of public comments opposing the ordinance mandating masks in public buildings in Palm Beach County,
“So, Glades, remember to wear your masks. As of last night, Belle Glade had 527 positive cases, South Bay, 237, and Pahokee, 207. We are a hot spot. Please wear your masks, Muck City. Facial coverings could possibly help us lower the numbers in our community.”

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