BRYAN LOBER: Universal Masking Policy to be Proposed at Tuesday’s Brevard Commission Meeting
By Bryan Lober – Brevard County Commission Chairman // June 26, 2020
Brevard County Commission Meeting set for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Viera
CORONAVIRUS BREVARD UPDATE: Brevard County Commissioner Chairman Bryan Lober and MedFast Urgent Care’s Dr. David Williams discuss the latest developments regarding COVID-19 from a government point of view and medical point of view
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article is written by Brevard County Commission Chairman Bryan Lober.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – As nearly everyone is aware, we are facing a noteworthy increase in the positivity rate of COVID-19 infection in Brevard County. Whether this is due to reopening, rallies, protests, or launches is irrelevant as the fact remains that our numbers recently skyrocketed.
From the outset of this pandemic, I have constantly maintained the position that we must not allow our local healthcare facilities to face the risk of being overrun.
To that end, I have been in ongoing and regular contact with hospital administrators and managing physicians with the major healthcare systems countywide along with Florida Department of Health officials and epidemiological staff.
We cannot, under any circumstances, allow local hospitals to run dangerously low on ventilators, hospital beds, gloves, face masks, or trained personnel.
While we are not presently at risk of depleting supplies to unsafe levels, I was made aware that a situation is worsening which I firmly believe requires the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners to take preemptive preventative action.
For the first time since this crisis began, we are facing mounting hospital personnel shortages – largely on account of these front-line workers becoming infected with COVID-19 and unable to return to work while potentially infectious.
While we are not at immediate risk of running out of medical personnel, should we sit idly without taking necessary action, we are at risk of this potentially happening in four to six weeks.
Decisions regarding necessary governmental action must be based upon science, data, and expert epidemiological opinion, not upon lay opinion or political pressure. Having spoken with multiple emergency medicine physicians today, it is clear we must act to ensure we do not run into a situation where demand for emergency medical services may outpace availability of those critical services.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker, Health First Chief Physician Executive, in pertinent part, “Health First believes a universal masking policy will help slow the spread of this terrible virus and protect the health of your loved ones and neighbors. Wearing masks will also preserve our ability to treat patients who are ill and safeguard the health of our medical professionals on the frontlines providing care.”
Earlier today, I directed County staff to amend the notice for the County Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 30, to include a universal masking proposal.
I will propose that individuals be required to wear face coverings while in businesses except for when they are eating or exercising until either the local state of emergency ends or until modified by the Board of County Commissioners Mandating the wearing of face masks is the least restrictive method of preventing what could become a catastrophic situation.
There is little question that such a restriction is constitutional as more severe restrictions have been held lawful even outside of the context of a pandemic.
One alternative to mandating face coverings would be to shut down local businesses, something which is avoidable if we act soon. The other alternative is that we allow continued increasing infection of hospital workers and face the very real risk of unavailability of medical care for those who need it.
Governmental response to this virus must not be contorted into a partisan political issue as it will infect democrats and republicans alike.
Ensuring public health and safety is one of the core obligations every government has to its citizens – even when so doing may prove unpopular or politically costly.
While Brevard County has been touted by Governor DeSantis and others as a model for the proper handling of COVID-19, we must not allow our earlier successes to make us complacent or blind to impending peril.
Full Statement from Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker, Health First Chief Physician Executive:
“Health First is committed to the wellbeing and safety of the Space Coast. We support the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines, which include recommendations to wear masks in public, maintain social distancing, and regularly wash your hands.
Health First believes a universal masking policy will help slow the spread of this terrible virus and protect the health of your loved ones and neighbors.
Wearing masks will also preserve our ability to treat patients who are ill and safeguard the health of our medical professionals on the frontlines providing care. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, it is critically important that our community remains vigilant to slow the spread.”
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