Mask mandates won’t return to Palm Beach County without Governor’s blessing


As the highly transmissible delta variant continues to spread across the U.S., daily COVID-19 numbers are continuing to climb.

On Tuesday, the CDC announced that the delta variant now accounts for more than 83 percent of new COVID cases nationwide. Meanwhile, Florida continues to be a hotspot for the virus, and some local governments are responding.

Officials in Orange County are urging people to wear masks despite Governor DeSantis’ stance that official COVID mandates and restrictions are not coming back to Florida.

Earlier this year, the DeSantis passed legislation invalidating local emergency orders including mask mandates.

Palm Beach County Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso says she doesn’t think there is a local “appetite” for new mask mandates, and Mayor Dave Kerner says he wouldn’t reinstate any mask mandates without the governor’s blessing. But as cases continue to climb, he says it’s a conversation he’s willing to entertain.

“If the Department of Health and other experts in the field think it’s time to discuss some sort of regulation of mask wearing, it’s a conversation we’ll have,” Kerner told CBS12 News. “I don’t know if it’s one that we’ll be able to enforce.”

Kerner says he believes that if people continue to get vaccinated in Palm Beach County, new mandates and restrictions won’t be necessary.

“We’re really not in that stage of the pandemic where there’s just such a robust amount of positivity, and I don’t think we could return to those days because of the excellent work this community has done getting vaccinated, and each day there’s more shots in arms,” Kerner told CBS12 News.

According to recent data, about 63 percent of the eligible population is now vaccinated in Palm Beach County. That’s slightly better than the statewide vaccination rate, which is currently about 59 percent.