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Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and then banned the safety gear

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Senior woman wearing face mask during corona virus and flu outbreak. Disease and illness protection. Surgical masks for coronavirus prevention. Sick elderly patient coughing. Ill person.

A Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and banned the safety gear from his office — even as the southern US state has hit record daily coronavirus death tolls.

Sheriff Billy Woods, of central Florida’s Marion County, emailed deputies Tuesday to tell them of the new mask prohibition, according to local paper the Ocala Star Banner, citing the message.

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“My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn,” the email read.

The sheriff allowed for certain exceptions, including for officers who work in prisons, schools, hospitals or with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

Woods added that his order was due to “the current events when it comes to the sentiment and/or hatred toward law enforcement in our country today.”

Woods seemed to be referring to protests against racism and police violence that swept across the country during the spring and early summer.

He also said that visitors to the sheriff’s office would not be allowed to wear masks for the same reason: “for identification purposes of any individual walking into a lobby.”

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Mask-wearing is not compulsory in Florida — only recommended — but the state is one of the most severe hotspots of the epidemic in the US. The state registered 212 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday after 276 on Tuesday.

In total, 8,765 people have died of COVID-19 in Florida, out of more than 550,901 cases in the state of 21 million.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), like much of the scientific and medical community, have recommended the use of face masks to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

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Woods said in a Facebook post that he and other US law enforcement officials had spoken on the phone to President Donald Trump, who himself did not wear a face mask in public until months into the pandemic.

Several Facebook users commented on Woods’s post, deriding the sheriff’s message.

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“It’s one thing not to require mask wearing, but to explicitly ban it? That takes a special kind of stupid,” one said.

Americans come from all over the country to retire in sunny Florida, and about a third of the 355,000 residents of Woods’s Marion County are older than 65 — the population most vulnerable to coronavirus.

Woods’s office did not respond to AFP’s request for comment Wednesday.

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Health care group sponsoring South Dakota indoor country music festival that doesn’t require masks: report

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On Monday, The Daily Beast reported that South Dakota is poised to hold an indoor country music festival that won't require face masks and has not yet confirmed whether they will require social distancing — and it's being sponsored by a local nonprofit health care organization.

"Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is presenting the Oct. 24 event in conjunction with the state’s governor, Kristi Noem," reported Michael Daly. "She endorsed the Sturgis motorcycle rally last month, where nearly half a million people gathered, largely without masks or social distancing, for 10 days before returning home, which a report by a team of economists with the Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies at San Diego State University estimates to have resulted in more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases. She will now be hosting the annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunt, which this year will include a musical event."

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Top Mueller deputy reveals why he chickened out of forcing Donald Trump Jr. to testify

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One of the mysteries left in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was why Donald Trump Jr., who infamously met with Russian agents to discuss the hacking of Hillary Clinton's stolen emails, was never forced to testify.

Andrew Weissmann, who served as one of Mueller's top deputies during the probe, has now given an answer.

In an excerpt of Weismann's upcoming book on the investigation obtained by The Atlantic, Weissmann claims that Mueller was too worried about the president shutting down the entire probe if they subpoenaed his family members to testify.

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2020 Election

‘He told us to use his words against him’: Early AM protest outside Lindsey Graham’s home over RBG replacement

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"In the spirit of RBG, we will not allow a double standard in how our Congress deals with late-term Supreme Court appointments."

Taking Sen. Lindsey Graham up on his 2016 advice to use his words opposing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland against him should a Supreme Court seat open in the final year of a Republican president's first term, a group of demonstrators gathered outside of the South Carolina Republican's Washington, D.C. residence early Monday morning demanding that he oppose the filling of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat until after the November election.

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