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Why some Tampa Bay counties are passing face mask orders and others aren't

Wearing a mask, "can actually drive down the transmission of this virus to a level where you can actually extinguish that transmission."

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For the fifth time in a week, the single-day number has topped 3,000 new cases of coronavirus.

That’s another 3,286 new cases of COVID-19 from Monday.

That's why some local leaders are issuing mask mandates. St. Petersburg’s order went into effect Tuesday and Pasco County just announced its mask order will be enforced beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Pinellas County, as well, passed an order.

RELATED: Pinellas County leaders vote to require face coverings inside businesses

You may be tired of hearing it, but doctors are not going to stop saying it: If you are indoors or in an area where you cannot socially distance, you need to wear a face mask.

“We don't have vaccines, we don't have monoclonal antibodies, we don't have a medication that we can use,” Dr. Manuel Gordillo said. “So here we need to resort to the traditional, almost ancient practice of non-pharmaceutical interventions that have been proven effective in other viruses.”

Gordillo is an infectious disease specialist and medical director of infection prevention and control at Sarasota Memorial Health. He says wearing a mask will protect you from getting COVID-19 and giving it to someone else.

Because of the consistent rise in positive cases, local leaders in Hillsborough County, the city of Tampa and St. Petersburg implemented mask requirements.

The mandates require employees and customers to wear a mask inside businesses.

In Pasco, County Administrator Dan Biles said the order requires everyone in the county to wear face coverings while indoors at a public business or county government facility.

RELATED: Pasco County issues mandatory face mask order to combat spread of COVID-19

RELATED: Mayor Rick Kriseman discusses mandatory mask order in St. Petersburg

RELATED: Hillsborough County makes masks mandatory inside businesses

Other counties like Hernando, Polk, Sarasota and Manatee say they have no plans to mandate masks.

"I wish every person would have a sense of personal responsibility. That they could cause the death of somebody,” Manatee Commissioner Betsy Benac said. “Do I think it's right to have an ordinance that mandates you wear a mask? No, because I don't think it will do any good. I want people to do it for the right reason."

Epidemiologist Dr. John Sinnott says because counties are not on the same page, it's causing confusion and making it harder to enforce. He says Gov. Ron DeSantis needs to get involved.

“To me, it cries out for a federal response where they just say everybody wears a mask for three months. It would be that simple and that would really reduce the spread,” Sinnott said. “And then people not wearing masks will be easily identified."

Doctors continue to say we all need to do our part by wearing a mask.

“In this challenging time that’s going to be very critical,” Gordillo said. “That’s one of the measures that we can do other than social distancing that can actually drive down the transmission of this virus to a level where you can actually extinguish that transmission if you stick to it gradually.”

That means the virus could actually die off on its own by everyone wearing masks, experts say.

It's up to businesses and the individual to enforce these mask mandates, not necessarily police officers. But, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said if people become non-compliant, it will get involved.

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