‘Grim reaper’ joins Florida doctors to demand statewide mask mandate

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Service/WFLA) — The debate over a statewide mask order continues to heat up. A group of physicians returned to the governor’s mansion on Friday – this time with the “Grim Reaper” – to demand executive action.

Florida reported an additional 11,433 cases of coronavirus on Friday. There were also 435 more hospitalizations, the largest single-day increase the state has seen.

“Governor, you just can’t spin your way out of this reality,” said Dr. Ron Saff.

Saff is part of a group called Physicians for Social Responsibility. The physicians, along with more than 1,000 doctors and healthcare workers who have signed a petition blaming the latest coronavirus spike, in part, on the reluctance of the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate.

“Florida is frighteningly becoming an epicenter for the virus,” said Dr. Saff.

This is the second time in less than a month the physicians have protested in front of the governor’s mansion. This time they were joined by lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder, who is better recognized as the “grim reaper” who has gone viral for traveling the state.

During the protest, he pointed out the difference in precautions the governor has taken for himself and his family compared to precautions in place for the public.

“Open the capitol! Because you’re killing Floridians!” said Uhlfelder.

Several city and county governments throughout the state have issued their own mask orders. That includes Leon County where the capitol is located.

But not everyone supports mandating masks. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini is spearheading legal challenges of seven local orders. One of them is in Hillsborough County.

A virtual hearing was held Friday for a suit against the Leon County ordinance.

“In South Florida where they’ve had these mask ordinances from the beginning, we have not seen a different trajectory or different trend in hospitalization and death,” Sabatini said during the hearing.

But the judge chose to uphold the ordinance. Doctors hope that will send a clear message.

“Why are we even taking this question seriously? Mr. Sabatini, let’s get real,” said Dr. Donald Axelrad, another doctor who’s part of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has repeatedly said that beating the virus will take continued social distancing and mask-wearing.

“Masks make a difference,” Fauci said earlier this week.

Friday’s ruling, however, will likely do little to change the governor’s stance on the issue anytime soon.

The governor has continued to dismiss the idea of a statewide order, despite Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas mandating masks as his state experiences a similar spike in cases.

Physicians for Social Responsibility is urging Floridians who support a statewide order to call or email Gov. DeSantis to express their opinion. You can call his office at (850) 717-9337 or email GovernorRon.DeSantis@eog.myflorida.com to make your voice heard.

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