Tuesday, November 17, 2020
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Ocala

State agriculture commissioner at odds with DeSantis over mandatory masks

Nikki Fried 2

Florida’s only Democratic Cabinet member is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue a statewide mask order.

Nikki Fried, who serves as the state’s agriculture commissioner, made the announcement as new cases of COVID-19 continued to skyrocket across the Sunshine State. In the past several days, DeSantis has balked at the idea of a mandatory mask order.

“With 31,299 new cases in the past week alone, Florida has emerged as a new hotspot for COVID-19,” Fried said Thursday, “While this pandemic threatens to spiral out of control, our leadership is rushing headlong into further reopening the state. We must take basic protective measures immediately.”
Fried said she’d like to see all Floridians and those visiting the state wearing masks in public.

“This is common sense, violates no one’s liberties, and follows the lead of 18 other states like North Carolina, Kentucky, and New York,” she said. “If we’re to beat this virus together, we must all act together, with all Floridians doing their part.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida has seen a renewed outbreak of COVID-19 cases, with a record 8,942 on Friday. That brought the total in the state to 122,960, with 3,366 deaths and 13,987 people hospitalized.

Fried cited reports that claim 42 percent of Florida’s cases have come in June alone. She said the state’s positivity rate is close to 16 percent – up from 2.3 percent on May 17. She also pointed out that the World Health Organization has indicated a state should have a positivity rate of under 5 percent for 14 days to continue reopening.

When DeSantis announced Phase Two of his reopening plan on June 3, Florida was reporting 58,764 cases. As of Friday, that number had grown by 64,196 cases.

Last week, DeSantis blamed that increase on the fact that more testing is being done and pockets of cases spreading throughout groups like migrant/farm workers who live and work in close quarters and staff and inmates at jails and prisons across the state.

He later backtracked on those statements and admitted that the sharp increase in Coronavirus cases can’t just be explained by increased testing. At first, he vowed to have compliance officers from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DPBR) make random checks at bars and nightclubs across the state to enforce the social distancing mandates. But that changed Friday morning when DPBR announced via Twitter that bars would no longer be able to serve alcohol to customers for on-site consumption because of the massive COVID-19 outbreak.

Photos in Ocala, Florida

Crime

Ocala Police investigating shooting that left 44-year-old man dead

A 44-year-old man was gunned down early Sunday morning outside an Ocala residence.

Woman arrested in Georgia after Ocala man gunned down in Marion Oaks residence

An Ocala man was gunned down Sunday night at a residence in Marion Oaks.

Homeless woman jailed for trespassing at Silver Springs Circle K

A 31-year-old homeless woman spent the weekend in jail after being charged with trespassing at a Circle K store in Silver Springs.

New cases of COVID-19 continue to mount across tri-county area

Eighty-five new COVID-19 cases were identified Monday in the tri-county area as Florida saw a significant increase in new cases of the potentially deadly virus.

Business

Ocala Golden Corral reopening doors after extended pandemic closure

The Ocala Golden Corral will reopen its doors latter this month after an extended closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students encourage to apply to ‘Shark Tank’ style business plan competition

Students across the county are being encouraged to apply to be a part of a local “Shark Tank” style competition hosted by the chamber.

New hotel reserving parking spaces in Ocala downtown parking garage

The free parking spaces available in Ocala’s Downtown Parking Garage were reduced this past week when the new hotel's parking lease with the city began.

Regal Hollywood & IMAX remains closed while Marion, Epic Theatres in Ocala remain open

Regal Hollywood & IMAX has remained closed for the past month while Marion and Epic Theatres of Ocala have been operating at limited capacity. 

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Headlines

Ocala Police investigating shooting that left 44-year-old man dead

A 44-year-old man was gunned down early Sunday morning outside an Ocala residence.

Ocala mayor set to recommend new police chief to replace late Greg Graham

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn is set to recommend the hiring of a new police chief on Tuesday night – a move that could draw the ire of at least two City Council members.

Woman arrested in Georgia after Ocala man gunned down in Marion Oaks residence

An Ocala man was gunned down Sunday night at a residence in Marion Oaks.

Homeless woman jailed for trespassing at Silver Springs Circle K

A 31-year-old homeless woman spent the weekend in jail after being charged with trespassing at a Circle K store in Silver Springs.

More headlines