Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 8, 2021
The Fernandina Beach City Commission once again extended its mask mandate due to covid, this time until May 7, 2021. And once again, Commissioners Bradley Bean and David Sturges opposed the extension, citing the rising number of vaccinated people in the community and the Governor’s refusal to allow penalties for violations of local mask mandates. After a brief discussion the motion to extend passed on a 3-2 vote.
Mayor Mike Lednovich presented the graphic below representing the last two weeks:
He stressed that as of the previous day only 23 percent of the Nassau County population had been vaccinated, leaving 77 percent as not protected. “I think that says volumes about where are.”
Commissioner Bradley Bean related his positive experience in getting vaccinated, reminding viewers that as of yesterday all Floridians over the age of 16 are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Commissioner David Sturges noted that Nassau County covid cases are down and that Jacksonville has eliminated its mask mandate. In iight of the increasing availability of vaccines and drop in the number of reported cases Sturges supported doing away with the mandate and letting individuals and businesses make their own decisions regarding the need for masks.
Vice Mayor Len Kreger said that there are currently 120 covid deaths in the County. “I will support the mandate consistently as long as the CDC recommends masks,” Kreger said. “We are certainly not out of the woods.”
Commissioner and ER doctor Chip Ross reported that Nassau County is still at a high risk of exposure to covid. He said that he would go along with Baptist Hospital, which has a mask mandate as well as the Florida House and Senate, which also have mask mandates. “I’m going to follow the Legislature and their lead,” he said.
Bean, who has been the most vocal opponent to the mask mandate since taking office in December, demanded to know if the FBCC was not prepared to remove the mandate now, when would they remove it.
Kreger said he would consider removing the mandate when the CDC removes its recommendations. “There are people still dying; this is not the time to stop,” he said. “Our numbers may well be lower than other places because we ARE continuing the mandate.”
Lednovich said to Bean, “The answer to the question is when science says it’s safe. Three out of four people in this county are not vaccinated, and you want to take masks off? I don’t think so.”
Commissioners did not discuss what many see as a fourth wave of the virus or the mutations that appear to lead to more virulent strains.