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Locals talk about the possibility of a mandatory mask order in Bay County

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 10:47 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2020 at 11:00 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -

More than 200,000 positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Florida but many are still debating whether to wear a mask.

“It’s off and on. It all depends on the place that I’m at. If I feel like I’m susceptible to being sick I will wear a mask. If not, I don’t see what the big deal with it is,” said Panama City Beach Resident Adam Aldridge.

People are also wondering if masks should be mandatory in Bay County. Since the first week of June, Bay County has racked up more than 600 new cases but some say other parts of the state like Miami-Dade County have far more cases than our area and more than 200 times the deaths than Bay County.

Bay County Commissioner Philip Griffitts and several others believe masks should not be mandated and the decision should be left to the individual.

“We don’t want to be the people that have to make anything mandatory for our people,” said Bay County Commission Chairman Phillip Griffitts. “They’re a strong and tough crowd that have been through many hard times. We’re just encouraging people to practice what the CDC guidelines are. If you’re in a public space we encourage mask usage and practice social distancing. If you are using the mask use them correctly.”

However, some, like local nurse Jasmine Martin believe masks should be mandatory. Especially in an area like Panama City Beach which attracts a lot of visitors.

“I think that everyone should wear a mask,” said Martin. “Most people who contract COVID-19 are asymptomatic. It is my belief that people are carriers and they don’t know yet because there is an incubation period for the symptoms to start.”

Martin said we can still spread the virus to kids, the elderly and others who are vulnerable and even visitors to the area. We reached out to Panama City Beach officials but they did not want to talk to us. They say they plan on speaking about the possibility of a mask ordinance at their next council meeting Thursday.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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