Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Like a Cult, St. Johns County Commission Eschews Masks

Anti-mask cultists drove the bus off the cliff in St. Johns County June 30, 2020, a date that will live in infamy.

Some selfish solipsistic citizens and somnambulant St. Johns County Commissioners disdain public health protection in the midst of a surge in coronavirus.  

Commissioners June 30 rejected mask requirements. 

While the City of St. Augustine voted a resolution, resulting in the City Manager's mask order and threatened $500 fines, St. Johns County mucked it up on masks.  

See stories and columns below my thoughts:

In East Tennessee, a 12-year old cancer patient, Pamela Hamilton was tortured by her parents,  cultists who believed in withholding medical care.  Tennessee courts stepped in and ordered chemotherapy, finding Pamela was a "dependent and neglected child."   In re: Hamilton, 657 S.W.2d 425 (Tenn. App. 1983). Her fundamentalist minister father, Rev. Larry Hamilton, cruelly refused treatment, and a tumor in her left leg grew to the size of a football before the State of Tennessee won a legal victory for custody.

Will courts step in here and vindicate public health?

While Commissioner I. Henry Dean sought to require masks indoors, there was no support.

Then Commissioner Jeremiah Ray Blocker moved to require masks on county property, and the vote was 3-2, against. See below.

What happened?

Ask the author of the Michelle O'Connell and Eli Washtock murder coverups.  Ask rebarbative reprobate Republican St. Johns County Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994.

Sheriff S/HOAR did not even appear, but spoke to all Commissioners, ex parte, saying he lacked "resources" to enforce a County mask ordinance.  That's also what Commission heard from SHOAR's hey-boy, illegally-hired County Administrator HUNTER CONRAD.

But Commissioners would not even pass an ordinance application to county buildings and employees!

Phoning it in, dueling drooling ideologues were mocking medical recommendations, one ending his schpiel by saying 20/20, and another making sheep noises on the telephone line.

County Commission Chair Jeb Smith is a moral man who hates corruption.  But his ideology has led him astray.  Sometimes he does the right things for the wrong reasons (opposing slot machines based on Bible, rather than non-sectarian public policy considerations).  Sometimes he does the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

In the Bible,  after Cain murdered his brother, Abel, God asked him where his brother was. Cain answered, “I know not; am I my brother's keeper?” 

Essentially, Commission Chair Jeb Smith and the anti-maskers ask: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

The answer is yes.   Read your Bible, Rev. Smith.

As far as Commissioners saying, "I know not," the answer is education.  Now.

Commissioners need to schedule a workshop, with medical experts, then vote again after their questions and the public's questions are answered.  Don't make Dr. Dawn Alicock wait around for hours -- be respectful of her time, and ours.  Protect public health.  Now.

While we have a health department and a medical examiner, we have no science or technical advisors.  These lacunae are common in the know-nothing era of DONALD JOHN TRUMP.  Things have been going downhill ever since House Speaker Newt Gingrich abolished the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment in 1995.  

St. Johns County is making itself the laughingstock of the United States by this vote.

The County's languid efforts at corporate employer recruitment are dashed by this vote.

Tourism is hurt by this vote.

The City of St. Augustine got this one right.  No one from SAPD disdained their duties to protect health.  St. Augustine is crowded with tourists.  People need to wear masks to protect each other.

We are all in this together. 

From The St. Augustine Record:

St. Johns County Commission rejects mask mandates for public, county employees By Sheldon Gardner
Posted Jun 30, 2020 at 12:39 PM
St. Augustine Record

St. Johns County commissioners turned down two motions on Tuesday that would have moved forward with separately requiring masks to be worn by the public and county employees because of the coronavirus.

Commissioner Henry Dean called for moving forward with crafting a mask mandate for the public, citing a spike in COVID-19 cases. But his motion received no support from the other four commissioners.

“Personally I would like a mandatory mask ordinance to take effect as expeditiously as possible,” Dean said.

The county had 260 cases on June 1. The county had 948 on Tuesday.

Based on data available Tuesday morning, St. Johns County had seven deaths. The county had 20,755 tests with 4.57% positive, up from 4.39% the day before.

Commissioners also voted on Tuesday to use federal funding to expand testing, and details of the expansion hadn’t been worked out.

The increased cases are not just the result of more testing being done, said Dawn Allicock, director of the Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County.

Allicock said the number of positive cases compared to tests given in recent days indicates “substantial community spread.”

More testing is needed to help find and isolate people who are infected, Allicock said.

“My humble opinion, bottom line, more than four months after the first recorded COVID-19 cases, the virus is still outpacing our ability to track it and contain it,” she said. “We must do better.”

Allicock said people should wear cloth face coverings where social distancing is difficult, but even with masks people should stay 6 feet away from others, stay home when sick and follow other CDC guidelines.

After Dean’s motion failed, Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker made a motion to require mask wearing by county employees and the public in county facilities when social distancing isn’t possible. He supported having the county provide masks to the public, as is the case at the St. Johns County Clerk of Courts office, he said.

Blocker said he believes that face masks can be effective, but he was concerned that a countywide face mask would not be enforceable.

Based on a conversation with Sheriff David Shoar, Blocker said it was his understanding that the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have the resources or the ability to enforce a countywide mask mandate.

County Administrator Hunter Conrad said the county also doesn’t have the resources to enforce a mandate through its code enforcement officials.

But Blocker said setting an example at the county’s own facilities would be a good starting point.

Commissioners voted 3-2 against that motion. Dean supported Blocker’s idea, but all other commissioners voted against it.

Commissioner Jimmy Johns said there were questions surrounding mask use, such as the types of masks that should be worn and what is healthy and enforceable.

“We’re having this conversation because I think all of us care about our residents’ physical health, mental health and financial health,” he said.

Johns said he had questions for Allicock, who had left the meeting before he had the chance to ask them. Lengthy public comment extended the meeting.

Dozens of people called into comment. Some of them urged the county to pass a mask mandate, pointing to a huge spike in coronavirus cases.

Some were strongly against a mask mandate, saying it would be an infringement on their rights.

Others had concerns about whether masks were effective in stopping the spread and whether people who couldn’t wear masks would be discriminated against.

The discussion took a political turn for some people.

One man who opposed mask wearing ended his comments in part with with “Trump 2020.”

Another caller cut into the comments of another person, who supported the mandate, making sounds that appeared to mimic a sheep.

“Is the sheep for or against it?” Johns asked.

The city of St. Augustine has implemented a mask mandate indoors when social distancing isn’t possible, with some exceptions.

Jacksonville officials announced Monday that people will be required to wear masks in public and indoor locations as a measure to guard against the coronavirus pandemic. The mandate, which took effect at 5 p.m. Monday, also applies to other locations in which social distancing is impossible.

Johns said that isn’t being uniformly enforced, and he doesn’t want to mandate something that won’t be effective and gives people a false sense of security.

Commissioner Paul Waldron said he wanted answers on which types of masks are better and whether the county has the ability to provide masks to both employees and the public. He raised the possibility of pushing the discussion off a week.

Commission Chair Jeb Smith said the intent of the initial shutdowns were to flatten the curve and spread out the transmission of COVID-19 over time so as not to overburden the hospital system. He said it appears that has been done in the county, and he noted that Flagler Hospital’s presentation to the Commission showed there was no current overburdening at the hospital.

“The people of St. Johns County have given much and they’ve sacrificed much to flatten the curve,” he said.

The economy has been devastated and many jobs have been lost, he said. He said he wouldn’t vote to add another regulation when he heard on Tuesday that there was no need for it.

Flagler Hospital CEO and President Jason Barrett told commissioners that there had been 23 inpatient admissions at Flagler Hospital for COVID-19 in June, compared with three in May, seven in April and eight in March.

Barrett’s presentation to the Commission said the hospital has the “supplies, resources and capacity” to meet the community’s needs. Barrett said his intent was not to downplay the risk of the virus.

Barrett also shared in his presentation that physicians published in The New England Journal of Medicine “strongly support the calls of public health agencies for all people to wear masks when circumstances compel them to be within 6 (feet) of others for sustained periods.”

He said that there is community spread of the virus. And if the coronavirus cases increase at an “exponential clip,” health resources could be strained.

County commissioners recently agreed to strongly encourage business owners to require masks at their facilities.

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