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Friday, December 01, 2023

Alachua County mask mandate expires, masks still recommended

The county also extended its vaccination incentive program to Oct. 31

After six weeks, Alachua County’s mask mandate expired due to a state restriction. However, masks continue to be recommended.

The County Commission originally passed the mandate Aug. 18. Because of state law, it could only last for seven days at a time and be renewed up to six times, or 42 days, due to state law.

COVID-19 cases have declined over the course of the mandate according to the county’s dashboard. The positivity rate for the week of Aug. 20 at the beginning of the mandate period was 14.7%, but the positivity rate for the week of Sept. 24 is 6.5%. The number of vaccinated people has also increased by 4%.

The falling COVID-19 cases and rising vaccination rates show that the county’s mask mandate and education on masking and vaccinations worked, county spokesperson Mark Sexton said.

“The County Commission is very proud of the residents of Alachua County because really they’re the ones that deserve the credit,” Sexton said. “The majority of them have worn masks when it’s been important to do so.”

Despite the requirement, over the course of the mandate the county did not issue any citations for residents not wearing masks or businesses not displaying signs on the mask mandate, Sexton said. 

The county still recommends masking, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines that individuals wear masks indoors. It also extended the vaccination program offering those who get vaccinated $25 gift cards to Oct. 31.

“We think that most of the people who were masking when it was mandatory will continue to wear a mask when it’s voluntary,” Sexton said. “It’s just the kind of community we have.”

Contact Meghan at Follow her on Twitter @meggmcglone.

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Meghan McGlone

Meghan McGlone is a UF junior majoring in journalism and English, and this year she’s the City and County Commission reporter. In past years, she’s served as the University Editor, the Student Government reporter, and other positions. Her favorite past time is eating gummy worms and reading a good book.

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