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Masks for all in all public places

Gadsden County mandates protective face coverings in public for nearly everyone 

With local coronavirus cases continuing to climb, Gadsden County leaders are ratcheting up mandatory contagion prevention measures yet again.

In its latest move in the ongoing fight to curb the spread of COVID-19 in local communities, the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously at an emergency meeting this past Friday – held “virtually,” via web communication platform Zoom – to issue an official mandate requiring that nearly all persons in public locales don protective face coverings. The order – enforceable by Florida Statute, according to commissioners – applies to customers and employees at construction sites, pharmacies, supermarkets, big box retailers and other public places, as well as delivery drivers operating within the county. Individuals exempt from the requirement include children age 2 and younger and those with respiratory difficulties.

For those keeping up with national news in recent weeks, at least, it’s no secret that medical grade face masks are in extremely short supply around the world. Not to worry – the mandate passed Friday advises that people wear simple cloth coverings, from crudely tied bandanas to carefully stitched homemade masks. In fact, public health officials urge everyone to reserve medical grade “N95” masks for medical workers. 

In the wake of the new order, local residents and organizations are stepping up to hand-fashion cloth masks for distribution throughout the county. In Chattahoochee, a pair of sisters have already sewn and distributed dozens of masks and have scheduled another giveaway event for 10 a.m., this Friday, April 24. Though the pair’s production levels are surprisingly prolific, they caution that they are almost certainly not able to meet the entire demand of the county and aim to limit their distribution events to residents of Chattahoochee and areas immediately surrounding. Not to worry! Dozens of others have taken on the role of “mask maker” in communities across the county, like Nancy Adams in Havana, who has been spreading her own brand of mask around town this week. In Quincy, the police department has hosted giveaways this week with more expected.

By Brian Dekle


Chattahoochee’s face mask-making sister duo reportedly sewed these 32 colorful cloth masks in a single day.
Photo courtesy L. Martin