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Health official says he believes COVID-19 cases have peaked in Alachua County

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Alachua County Board of Commissioners extended its emergency order another week due to COVID-19.

This comes as one official with the Alachua County Health Department said the recent trends in COVID cases seem to be moving in the right direction.

“You can start to see that the trends are starting to solidify that we are on the downslope of this latest surge, so we’re hopeful that continues,” said Paul Myers, Administrator of the Alachua County Health Department.

This marks the fourth time the county has extended its emergency order.

It requires all businesses to enforce masking indoors and display the county emergency order sign, but the University of Florida and Santa Fe College are not complying with the order.

That’s because school officials are not requiring masks.

“I think at the end of the day we asked them to be our partners and their message back to us was clear. They couldn’t feel that they could do that at this time, and I think we need to focus on our community,” said Anna Prizzia, a county commissioner.

UF President Kent Fuchs and Santa Fe President Paul Broadie said they don’t have the authority to mandate masks.

RELATED STORY: UF and Santa Fe College presidents respond to Alachua County commissioners’ mask mandate demand

“Nursing is an evidence-based practice. When we look at evidence we see that masks do make a difference,” said Rita Revak-Lutz, Academic Chair of Nursing at Santa Fe College.

Staff at both schools said while masks aren’t required, they are strongly encouraging students to wear them.

Commission Chair, Ken Cornell, asked Myers a question many people have been wanting an answer to.

“So I’ve asked you three times. Have we peaked? Are you ready to say maybe, yes, not sure still?”

“I think so,” said Myers.

Cornell and other commissioners expressed their excitement at the news.

Myers said officials have been keeping an eye on the data since the first gator football game of the season.

“Four to six days post-game where we saw a bit of an increase, but nothing where I could say that’s the smoking gun. We’re just not seeing it,” he said.

This emergency order can be in effect for a maximum of six weeks.

That means leaders can only require businesses to enforce masking indoors and display the emergency order sign for two more weeks.

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