PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — People in Pinellas County will be required to wear masks in public for the time being.
The county has extended its local state of emergency for COVID-19 through April 30, according to a press release.
The order, which has been extended every week since March 2020, requires people to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. Commissioners will meet again next week to vote on whether to extend it further.
The extension comes as more coronavirus restrictions are lifted on the federal, state and local level. The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said recommendations about wearing masks may change as more people get vaccinated against the virus. He said being vaccinated “dramatically” diminishes the person’s risk of carrying the virus, but does not eliminate it.
“[W]hat happens is that you might get infected and get absolutely no symptoms, not know you’re infected, and then inadvertently go into a situation with vulnerable people. And if you don’t have a mask, you might inadvertently infect them,” Fauci told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “[W]hen you get vaccinated you are clearly diminishing dramatically your risk of getting infected. That’s one of the things we’ve got to make sure everybody understands. You dramatically diminish it.”
The CDC recommends vaccinated people continue wearing masks in public.
“We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more,” the CDC said in the guidelines.
Pinellas County reported 181 new coronavirus cases and seven new deaths on Wednesday. The county says 395,844 people have received one or both doses of the vaccine as of April 20.