Just one day after Kent Guinn revealed on Facebook that he’d been hospitalized for COVID-19, the Ocala mayor made it clear that he was against extending the city’s mask ordinance.
Guinn has maintained throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that he believes residents can make their own decisions about whether or not to wear face coverings. In August, the mayor vetoed the city’s mask ordinance, saying at the time that it would be too difficult for the Ocala Police Department to enforce. The mayor oversees the police department and both late Police Chief Greg Graham and Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said an ordinance requiring enforcement actions against those refusing to wear masks would be nearly impossible to police.
The City Council overrode the mayor’s veto and put the 60-day mask ordinance in place. The Council has continued to renew the ordinance and on Tuesday, Councilman Matthew Wardell called on Guinn to be an example and encourage area residents to wear a mask.
On Monday, Guinn posted a thank-you message to his supporters on his Facebook page after spending five days in the hospital. He said COVID-19 has no political ideology and it’s time for area residents to stop bickering with each other about the virus.
“It cares not if (you’re) a D or an R. Ordinance or no ordinance,” he said.
Guinn said he was told that he was “one of the lucky ones” for surviving his bout with the Coronavirus.
“When you lay in that hospital bed alone at night and pray to God for your very next breath, then you know that this Virus cares nothing about your political views,” he wrote. “You come to understand what’s important in life. Your faith, family and your loved ones are the most important things in your life. Political views just don’t matter. They are literally a waste of your oxygen to even think about.”
Moving forward, Guinn said the Ocala community needs to “support and love on” the people who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
“Those that have had it and survived, listen to their stories. It’s different for most everyone,” Guinn wrote.
The mayor also encouraged area residents to get healthy, lose weight if necessary, see their physicians and work on a health plan. He encouraged those who are diabetic or have heart problems to get with their physicians and get healthy.
“The health conditions I’ve mentioned are who it attacks. Let’s as a community go on offense not just be on defense,” he said. “Thank you to each and every nurse, health care worker I came in contact with. You were my Angels outside room 606 at Advent Hospital.”
Guinn also said he listened to three songs while in the hospital that made a huge difference in his condition – Alabama singing “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” Alabama singing “Angels Among Us” and Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill performing “How Great Thou Art.”
“My Oxygen numbers would go up from 88 to 93 and above listening to them,” he said. “Please take the time to listen to them and pay attention to the words. God Bless each and every one of you and thank you for your continued support and prayers. STOP the bickering and go out and do something good in the community.”