Open Broward Meetings and Hold Public Hearing on Mask Mandate! - Op-Ed by Chris Nelson

    • Official Post

    On April 10, 2020 Broward County issued an Emergency Order requiring anyone entering a building within the county to wear a mask. Businesses were required to post signs on their door threatening fines and even imprisonment if employees and customers did not follow this Broward County mandate. It has been ten months since this was imposed. Data is now available concerning the effectiveness of this so-called mandate on Covid-19 infections and deaths. Palm Beach County did not impose a mask mandate until June 25, 2020. From April 10 through June 25, Broward and Palm Beach County's death rates were nearly identical according to the New York Times. Also there have been several studies released on the subject including a study released on November 18, 2020 and reported by the New York Times in the following way: “Researchers in Denmark reported on Wednesday that surgical masks did not protect the wearers against infection with the coronavirus in a large randomized clinical trial,”. This study was then published in the academic journal Annals of Internal Medicine. In addition, Governor Ron DeSantis's Executive Order 20-244 neuters County Commissioners and Mayors of their ability to enforce fines on individuals or close businesses for violating the so-called mandate, rendering the mandate practically meaningless. Yet people continue to live in fear of the Broward County Government's iron fist. Meanwhile, adults and children with legitimate medical conditions, past trauma, or religious objections to forced masking continue to be subjected to harassment and intimidation. Broward County Government has tabled the issue and continues to impose their mandate on the community indefinitely and without discussion or community participation. In fact, Broward County is one of the only counties in the state of Florida to continue to hold closed door meetings with no in-person public participation and no allotted time for Matters of the Public. This is another example where the Broward County Government has directly disobeyed an Executive Order from Governor DeSantis. On Wednesday September 30, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-246 providing local government bodies with an additional one-month period to conduct their meetings virtually. DeSantis said, “Local government bodies should prepare to meet in person as required by Florida law beginning Nov. 1." Concerned Broward citizens, having been completely shut out from Broward Government meetings since March, 2020 said "finally, we will have our voices heard!" Not so! In defiance of this order, Broward County Government decided to continue to hold their meetings behind closed doors! In fact, they stopped streaming their meetings on Facebook and blocked the public from commenting on their YouTube channel! This is a slap in the face to every single Broward resident, no matter what you think about masks. It is completely reasonable and required for Broward County Government to open their meetings to the public, to allot a time for Matters of the Public and to hold a public forum on this so-called mask mandate in regard to its merits, its effectiveness in combating Covid-19, and its eventual expiration date.

    Chris Nelson

    Ft. Lauderdale, FL

    February 4, 2021

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