Dear Lake County Business Owner:
Our goal is to keep Lake County “Open for Business” and to assist our businesses through this difficult time while keeping our residents safe. As I’m sure you are aware, there has been a record amount of COVID-19 testing in Lake County and Florida and as we expected, many more cases are being reported. Fortunately, the rate of fatalities in Florida has been going down despite the increase in positive cases being reported. The group with the highest rate of positivity right now is the 25-34 year old group (with the next highest group being 15-24, and third highest being 45-54). Many people testing positive are asymptomatic. All three of our hospitals are seeing an increase in hospitalizations, but the majority of patients are in non-ICU beds and the recovery rate is similar to a typical hospital stay (5-7 days).
I have been asked by Health Department officials and leaders of Hospital systems in Lake County and Central Florida to promote mask wearing inside of offices, businesses and retail establishments. One of the areas where we are seeing spread occur is within office settings due to time spent in “break rooms” or while employees have their guard down and they are socializing or taking a break from wearing their mask. Thus, I wanted to write today to ask for your help as we seek to promote the voluntary use of masks. I want to emphasize that I do not support a “mask law” or mask requirement because I believe there are legitimate reasons for people to not wear a mask (or to remove a mask), including one of the key reasons noted by the Health Department, which is trouble breathing. There are also differences of opinion, health considerations, circumstances, and religious, philosophical or scientific reasons why people may choose not to wear a mask. That being said, our goal is to achieve as much voluntary compliance as possible while people are indoors in close contact. This also helps people feel more comfortable engaging in business, shopping, and living their lives as we navigate this pandemic and seek to resume normalcy.
For your information, this is the Advisory issued by Florida Department of Health regarding masks:
“Wear a cloth face cover in public.
Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others and out in public, such as the grocery store.
Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker. Don’t place a cloth face cover on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Why? You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.”
Our Lake County website (www.lakecountyfl.gov) directs readers to the CDC guidelines and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) website (links are provided so they can be accessed with one touch or click). Through a local non-profit initiative (LASER), thousands of cloth masks have been made and distributed throughout Lake County. In addition, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners is working with the Florida Department of Health to provide free masks to residents and promote voluntary mask wearing when residents are shopping or interacting with others indoors.
The FDOH website (http://www.floridahealth.gov) includes extensive information including advice on how to avoid spreading the virus and being exposed to the virus. It warns that there is no vaccine at this time; and that age and underlying health conditions make some people more likely to become seriously ill if exposed; and that the virus spreads from person to person through particles from our mouths and noses, and that we can become infected through our eyes as well. The Lake County Board of County Commissioners has used multiple platforms over the last several months to get this message out to the public.
It is very important to note that the CDC and DOH acknowledge the types of masks being worn in public may help you from transmitting the virus to others to some degree but it does not prevent you from contracting the virus, although it may provide some limited protection depending on the size of the particles you’re exposed to.
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners will continue to use public service announcements, emails, our website, interviews and videos, signage, social media and coordination with our businesses to promote proper mask wearing, including providing free masks to the greatest extent possible, while acknowledging it remains someone’s choice whether or when to wear a mask. If you are agreeable, we are asking for your help to encourage voluntary mask wearing.
If you should have any questions, please feel free to call or send me an email. Many thanks for your assistance in this regard.
Thank you and God Bless You,
Leslie Campione, Chairman
Lake County Board of County Commissioners