CLAY COUNTY — Beginning Sunday, July 19, the use of face coverings will be required in all indoor areas of public accommodation in Clay County. These areas include, but are not limited to, grocery and retail stores, special events and on public transit.
There is a list of exceptions to the mask requirements. They can be found in the full Public Health Emergency Order online at www.clayhealth.com. The new order is set to remain in place through Aug. 23.
“Face masks and physical distancing are the two most effective tools we have at our disposal during this time,” said Director of Public Health Gary Zaborac. “These simple actions have been proven to reduce the spread of droplets that can carry COVID-19. We are asking everyone in Clay County to do their part to protect themselves and others in our community, especially the most vulnerable.”
Currently, the public health agency allows most businesses to decide if they require all who enter to wear a mask. Those wanting to have their business operate at full building code occupancy must require masks, but businesses seeking to remain at 50% occupancy currently are not required to have all wear masks.
The change to requiring masks starting next week comes after Clay County experienced a 36% increase in active COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks.
“There has also been a 300% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 30 days, with the daily average raising from 10 patients hospitalized to 40,” states a CCPHC release.
As of Tuesday, July 14, there have been a total of 561 cases of COVID-19 reported in Clay County Public Health Center’s jurisdiction and a total of 20 deaths, states the release.
“It is critical we take this additional step to require masks in order to slow down increases in cases, to avoid overburdening our health care system and to avoid the disruption to our local economy that would come if we would have to return to stay-at-home orders,” said Zaborac.
More information on the state of the pandemic can be found on the Courier-Tribune’s mobile app, Courier-Tribune NOW, and online at mycouriertribune.com.