Mayor Bill Mutz may be feeling a little lonely these days. Mutz didn’t fare any better today than he did on Monday in getting support from the six other city commissioners for an order requiring people to wear masks inside public spaces in Lakeland.

Mutz kept his cool but was miffed that he couldn’t garner any support from his colleagues after another commissioner brought up the mask issue at the end of a meeting called for another purpose.

Coronavirus “is a pandemic” and all the red lights are blinking, he said. He said if the commission doesn’t approve an order now, it will be forced to do so later.

At the end of a virtual meeting to move along the selection of a new city manager, Commissioner Stephanie Madden said she wanted to talk about the city’s educational efforts to combat the virus. That opened the door to a discussion about the mandatory wearing of masks in the city.

Not long after the meeting ended, an update from the Florida Department of Health showed that 90 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Lakeland today, a new high daily number; it's 15 cases larger than the previous high reported last Friday.

Polk County as a whole reported its second-highest daily number of new cases: 175.

On Monday, Mutz urged commissions to support a mask mandate but couldn’t find any allies. It was deja vu on Wednesday. Commissioners said they are very concerned about the virus but didn’t yet support the mandatory wearing of masks.

“I don’t see any change” in my position, Commissioner Bill Read said.

With a mandatory ordinance, “Enforcement is a big issue,” Madden said, particularly with a possible $500 fine and police involvement.

Commissioner Scott Franklin said his colleagues should practice what they preach about stopping the spread of the virus.

Without mentioning names, he said he has seen photos on social media of unmasked commissioners touching other people.

“Shame on us,” Commissioner Sara Roberts McCarley said.

Several commissioners said the city has to more aggressively market its coronavirus-fighting efforts.

“Wearing a mask is a personal responsibility,” McCarley said.

The city’s message has lacked a sense of urgency, Commissioner Chad McLeod said.

But Kevin Cook, the city’s communications boss, displayed several posters of the city’s efforts to encourage safety measures, including mask wearing.

Franklin said putting a city mask-wearing law on the books just for the sake of passing a law is irresponsible.

“We’re not trying to create a police state,” Mutz said.

Commissioners talked about scheduling another date to discuss the issue but did not do so.

At the beginning of a three-hour discussion on Monday, the incoming CEO of Lakeland Regional Health and the managing partner of Watson Clinic urged commissioners to require masks, saying it is the cheapest and most effective way to combat a marked increase in COVID-19 cases in Polk County.

Both institutions report seeing more younger patients with the disease as the area has transitioned from a preponderance of cases in nursing homes to community transmission in a time when more people feel emboldened to gather in public.

In the last week, several nearby local governments have issued various forms of mask orders. They include the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, and Hillsborough, Pinellas, Orange and Pasco Counties.

The mask discussion begins at about 01:17:30 in this video:

City Commission Meeting 2020.06.24 from City of Lakeland on Vimeo.

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  1. Mayor Bill
    You are not alone. You will be seen as a leader in understanding that if we are going to be “open for business” we must all do our civic responsibility and make Lakeland safe for all its citizens. And yes it is about our personal freedom. Our freedom for Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

  2. It is with great disappointment I read this morning that Mayor Bill Mutz could not garner support for an ordinance requiring citizens to wear a mask inside public spaces. I am appalled at the number of people who fail to wear a mask not only for their own protection but for the good of all the citizens around them. This is a pandemic and sticking our heads in the ground and saying it isn't so doesn't change it.

    We are extremely careful personally social distancing and wearing masks when around anyone outside the immediate family. This means masks when anyone outside of my household including grandma 96 and grandchildren 4 yrs old. We insist anyone coming into our home wear a mask. We forwent a 50th anniversary celebration opting for a quiet dinner at home and a zoom party with our children and 11 grandchildren. We will not be traveling to DE to see our family this summer and they cannot travel to us for the health and safety of all. All sacrifices.

    This will pass but it is time people got over their individual rights bandwagon and developed some self discipline for the good of all. If you cannot wear a mask for the short time you are inside with others then stay home. Every time I go out and see, especially employees of a business wearing a mask, I thank them as they are keeping me safe. Please reconsider your position on this matter, revisit it with Mayor Bill Mutz and the other commissioners, and vote for the health and safety of all Lakeland.

  3. We need a mandate for masks inside public spaces. With Publix doing all they can to help people stay safe, it is
    still not possible to social distance in its stores because people without a mask insist on walking in wrong direction-can't or won't follow directional arrows. If surrounding cities and Dade and Broward counties can enforce mask mandate, why can't Lakeland commissioners figure out how to do it also?

  4. There is plenty of evidence contrary to the use of masks, as witnessed below.Therefore they should NOT be mandated!

    Facts about the Corona Virus
    1. No studies have been done to demonstrate that either a cloth mask or the N95 mask has any effect on transmission of COVID-19.
    2. A meta-analysis involving 9,171 patients showed no statistically significant differences in preventing influenza or viral infections using N95 respirators and surgical masks.
    3. A study of 159 healthcare workers found that 81% Developed headaches from wearing a face mask.
    4. A study of 53 surgeons showed that the mask reduced the blood oxygen levels significantly, creating a condition known as “hypoxia.”
    5. Hypoxia inhibits T-lymphocytes (the main immune cells used to fight viral infections) by increasing the level of HIF-1. Thus, wearing a mask may actually set the stage for contracting COVID-19.
    6. Hypoxia promotes inflammation (which can promote the growth, invasion and spread of cancer) and is also a significant factor in atherosclerosis (this it increases the risk of stroke and heart attack)
    8. Masks prohibit exhaled viruses from escaping and can cause them to enter olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.
    9. The WHO Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, and Dr. Anthony Fauci have all said that there is no need for healthy people to wear face masks.
    10. A CDC spokespersons told Reuters tht they do not have data to confirm that wearing a mask reduces the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

    Sincerely yours,
    Rev. Paul Armes

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