Florida's Monroe County Commission has determined that for the next year visitors to the Florida Keys will need to bring — and wear — face masks with them at all times or face a stiff penalty.
What are the details?
On Wednesday, the commission passed a ruling mandating all people — including business employees and customers — wear face coverings in all establishments.
Violators of the new measure face a $500 civil fine.
The new ruling says that face masks are mandatory until June 1, 2021. The decision will be revisited on a quarterly basis.
In a statement, county spokesperson Kristen Livengood said, "Facial coverings over the nose and mouth must be worn in business establishments and other public settings where there is a roof overhead."
Children 6 and younger are not required to wear a mask. The only exceptions to the new rule are "for those eating and drinking in a restaurant in bar, as well as while exercising in a gym as long as a six-foot social distance is maintained."
Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases across the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) blasted the media in May for sensationalizing the pandemic.
During a news briefing, DeSantis — who appeared with Vice President Mike Pence at the time — said that much of the media insisted that Florida would go the way of New York, and see an insurmountable amount of diagnoses and deaths due to COVID-19.
"So we've succeeded, and I think that people just don't want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative, it challenges their assumption, so they've gotta try to find a boogeyman," he said.
On Wednesday, however, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania released data indicating that Florida — which has seen a large uptick in cases over the last few weeks — could become the new epicenter of the virus in the U.S.
Researchers say that the latest rise in cases "has all the makings of the next large epicenter ... the risk there is the worst it has ever been in our projections."
According to U.S. News & World Report, Florida's cases are on an upward trend, and confirmed an additional 3,207 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Thursday — a record amount of cases. The prior record was set the previous Tuesday with a confirmed 2,783 infections.