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Infectious disease specialist says masks might still be needed despite mandates expiring

Palm Beach County could drop mandate, commissioner says
Posted at 3:21 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 17:27:06-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday he is ending the state of emergency in Florida concerning the coronavirus pandemic.


The executive order may also mean the end of mask mandates.

In downtown West Palm Beach Monday, some people were wearing face masks and some were not -- like Noah Fenton.

"Myself, being young and vaccinated and healthy, I do feel comfortable without it," Fenton said.

During his speech Monday, DeSantis made a strong push for getting back to normal, saying Florida is no longer in a state of emergency and suspending local COVID-19 emergency orders and health restrictions.

This decision will likely affect mask mandates put in place by counties.

Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth
Palm Beach County Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth says he believes the county will drop its mask mandate following the governor's announcement Monday.

"The county administrator and county attorney are trying to figure that out at this very moment. If I were a betting man, I would say that they will probably accept the governor's judgment and drop the mandate," said Palm Beach County Commissioner Robert Weinroth.

Weinroth said it may be time to lift those mask mandates and let individuals decide on their own.

Friday evening, Palm Beach County eased mandating outdoor mask-wearing among vaccinated people to align with CDC rules.

Weinroth said the availability of vaccines is now making the mandates less necessary.

"I think it's the same when you got outside and cross the street. You look both ways and make a decision when it's safe to cross. I think we have allowed our residents to make the decision that's right for themselves," Weinroth said.

Dr. Larry Bush, infectious disease specialist
Dr. Larry Bush believes mask-wearing is still an important part of fighting the pandemic.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush of Wellington said with vaccination rates slowing, masks may still be needed even if the mandates go away.

"I think the debate on whether masks work, that race has been run. Masks work. Are they 100 percent protected? Of course not, but nothing is, but they work and not inconvenient. It's common sense," Bush said.

Bush said generally it is safe for vaccinated people to go without masks outdoors. But with more people unvaccinated, it will allow the virus to keep spreading and evolving into different variants.

"It depends on how you define safe. Safe is a personal decision. What's safe for one person is not for another," Bush said.

There are still many who say they will not give up wearing a mask.

"No, I think people should still wear the mask until this entire virus is under control," one woman in downtown West Palm Beach said Monday.