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Florida physicians seek statewide mask order as judge holds up Leon County order

File photo of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
File photo of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The debate over a statewide mask order continues to heat up as a group of physicians returned to the governor’s mansion once again — this time with the “Grim Reaper” to demand executive action. 

The legal battle challenging local orders requiring people to wear masks is also playing out in court.

Friday’s 11,385 new cases work out to a new Floridian coming down with coronavirus every 7.5 seconds.

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

The physicians, along with more than 1,000 doctors and healthcare workers who have signed a petition, blame the latest spike in part on the reluctance of the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate.

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

This is the second time in less than a month the physicians have protested in front of the Governor’s Mansion. They were joined this time by Daniel Uhlfelder, better known as the grim reaper often seen traveling the state.

Uhlfelder, an attorney, contrasted the precautions the governor has taken for himself and family with precautions in place for the public.

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

Multiple local governments have issued their own mask orders, including Leon County.

But not everyone supports mandating masks.

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini is spearheading legal challenges of seven local orders. A virtual hearing was held Friday for the lawsuit Sabatini filed 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.

The judge chose to uphold the ordinance. And 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 with Physicians for Social Responsibility.

But the ruling 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, Texas mandating masks amid a similar spike in cases.

Physicians for Social Responsibility is urging Floridians who support a statewide order to call or email the governor to express their opinion on the matter. 

You can call his office at 850-717-9337 or email GovernorRon.DeSantis@eog.myflorida.com to make your voice heard.