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Citing COVID spike, Hillsborough County require masks in county facilities

Vaccinated or not, mask up, the county says.

TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County again will require masks inside all county buildings because of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

The policy, which goes into effect Wednesday, Dec. 29, applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status, the county said in a news release. Buildings and facilities include libraries, recreation centers, the Frederick B. Karl County Center and the like.

"The measure is being taken as a precaution for the health and safety of County employees as well as residents," the county said in a statement.

There have been 5,147 COVID-19 cases reported in the past seven days through Dec. 26 in Hillsborough County, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. It's a 286-percent increase over the week prior.

The rapid increase in cases follows a larger trend nationwide caused by the more infectious omicron COVID variant. New hospital admissions, at this time in Hillsborough County, are significantly lower than the summertime surge but appear to show an uptick, the CDC data shows.

Health experts advise mitigations, such as masking up and getting COVID booster vaccines, will help to protect people from the virus.

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