Many say COVID-19 rise is concerning, community leaders push for mask mandate

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People wearing face masks in downtown Fort Myers (Credit: WINK News)

In downtown Fort Myers as stores and restaurants begin to open up, more people are venturing out either with a mask or without.

Mary Garcia and Lisette Lopez say they’re just getting used to eating at restaurants again.

“If I sit inside, I have to be at a distance. If it’s crowded inside, I won’t even eat, but if it’s open like this and it’s outside, I’m fine,” Garcia said.

That way, they don’t have to wear a mask. But others, like the Estero Council of Community Leaders, are pushing to make masks mandatory.

“The bottom line is we are absolutely convinced based on all the research that’s been done and the advisory that’s been given by the CDC and health experts that masks do make a significant difference in protecting people from this disease,” said Jim Gilmartin, president of ECCL.

New data from the Florida Department of Health shows an increase of more than 5,500 cases since Tuesday, which is concerning for congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Several Florida Democratic members of Congress sent the governor a letter asking that he set aside politics and mandate masks.

“He’s taken this ‘nothing to see here’ approach and he puts political pandering over our public health and that’s going to cause a loss,” Wasserman-Schultz said. “It’s very clear that you can reduce the number of cases, reduce the likelihood that someone would get the coronavirus if you avoid exposure to other people’s droplets.”

“If you’re isolating, you’re inside a restaurant or too close to people in a big crowd then yeah, but when you’re outdoors or you’re at the beach or something then I don’t think so, as long as you keep your distance,” Lopez said.

Wasserman-Schultz also said she feels a resurgence in cases could have been avoidable if the governor had gone slower. The governor has insisted that the number of cases has increased due to more testing.

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