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Florida lawmaker to file lawsuit against Pinellas County mask mandate

State Representative Anthony Sabatini will be at the Pinellas County Courthouse Friday, July 17, to rally against the county's mandatory face-covering ordinance.
Credit: Florida House

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A state lawmaker is holding a press conference at the Pinellas County Courthouse to announce a lawsuit against the county's face-covering ordinance.

State Representative Anthony Sabatini will be at the courthouse Friday, July 17, to rally against Pinellas' mandatory face-covering ordinance. Sabatini and his co-counsel KrisAnne Hall will outline their concerns and announce a lawsuit against the Board of County Commissioners.

A Facebook event for the gathering asks everyone to do what they can and attend on Friday. 

The Facebook event goes on to say "There is absolutely NO VALID EVIDENCE to indicate cloth coverings or masks reduce COVID-19 exposure. The Board doesn't care if masks are ineffective, they don't care if their ordinance violates the constitution, they don't care if they destroy our economy! WE WILL VOTE THEM OUT but the quickest way to end this order is in court! The judges must know where we stand - they must hear our concerns, our voices, from our community!"

Event in Clearwater, FL by Debra Williams and Jason Kimball on Friday, July 17 2020 with 248 people interested and 92 people going. 18 posts in the...

Pinellas County leaders voted to approve a countywide face mask order on June 23. 

Out of the three ordinances considered during the meeting, commissioners approved the one with the most universal language: If you're inside most public buildings, you wear a mask.

It passed by a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Kathleen Peters in disapproval. She said she supported the wearing of face coverings but did not want to mandate them.

It lists several exemptions, including those for specific medical reasons. County leaders also made several changes to the proposed ordinance after listening to citizens and medical experts, including to allow for parental discretion involving minors.

It does not apply to schools, courthouses or city halls, but it is recommended those places develop plans to protect the public.

Fines start at $100 for the first violation and increase to $500 for a third violation.

On Tuesday,  Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said if all  Americans were to wear a mask in public, the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. could be brought under control within two months. 

The CDC says cloth face coverings can "help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face-covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice." It recommends anyone over the age of 2 wear a face-covering in public settings, especially when social distancing cannot be maintained.

The emerging rules have been met with resistance by those who insist they will not wear a mask for various reasons, from concerns that it will harm them, to claims that masks are ineffective to fears that mask-wearing infringes upon their individual liberties.

While some counties and cities in Florida have mask or face covering mandates, there is no statewide directive. 

RELATED: How will counties enforce new mask mandates?

RELATED: Pinellas County mandates face coverings inside most public buildings

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