U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Reflects Sun Belt Outbreaks


So officials in some parts of the country are putting their foot down.

In Miami Beach, Fla., officials have issued more than $14,000 in fines to people who refuse to wear masks, though most of that has not been collected, The Miami Herald reported on Tuesday. Fines under the mask rule, which took effect last month, start at $50 per infraction but can reach $500 if left unpaid. (An earlier version of this item mistakenly said those figures were for the city of Miami.)

And the state of Illinois, where coronavirus cases have been rising, enacted a measure on Friday making it a felony to assault a retail worker who is enforcing a mask-wearing policy.

But the sheriff of Marion County, Fla., which includes Ocala, has come down hard on the opposite side. Sheriff Billy Woods has ordered his deputies not to wear masks on duty, except in limited situations, and has forbidden visitors to sheriff’s offices to wear them.

Sheriff Woods said the purpose of his order, which was first reported by The Ocala Star-Banner, was to improve communication, because officers’ voices can be muffled behind a mask. He made exceptions for officers at the county courthouse, in jails and in public schools — but he made clear that he wasn’t convinced they were necessary.

“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not,” the sheriff said about mask-wearing in an email announcing the policy. “The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t.”

The sight of thousands of unmasked faces at a motorcycle rally last week in Sturgis, S.D., prompted Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire to change his mind, and issue an order requiring masks at gatherings of more than 100 people in his state. The order would apply to the Laconia Motorcycle Rally in Laconia, N.H., now scheduled for Aug. 22 after being postponed by the pandemic.

Governor Sununu, a Republican, had resisted issuing a statewide order. But “Sturgis was a clear warning sign to us,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone saw the photos out of Sturgis and thought, ‘That looks safe.’”


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