PANMAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — On Thursday evening, the Panama City Beach Council reached a resolution calling for their mask mandate ordinance to be extended to August 28th at 5 p.m.
The mask mandate extension impacts all business employees and patrons in indoor businesses including retail, bars, restaurants and indoor amusements.
While City Manager Tony O’Rourke said he felt the area has reached its peak and may be headed toward a plateau, he expressed the positivity rate for COVID-19 cases may still be a cause for concern.
“As a county right now were at 16%, we are seeing our numbers hopefully diminish a little bit, but the C.D.C. and other health experts say you want a positivity rate that’s preferably under 10%,” said O’Rourke.
While other Council members recognized that the city is headed in a good direction, they felt it was too soon to relax the mandate.
Councilman Jarman acknowledged that local hospitals in the area are already compromised with limited bed capacity due to Hurricane Michael, and according to hospital officials he spoke with, they are still seeing high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“My primary concern has been our hospitalizations, when I reached out to local hospitals this week they said they are still in surge protocols,” said Councilman Jarman.
Councilman Jarman did express that data was proving hospitalizations to be on a downward trend.
Ultimately, the Council said they want to ensure they are making the safest choice for the community.
“We can all wear masks for a little while but we can’t stand another shutdown,” said Councilman Casto.
The Council also acknowledged that they have been receiving questions about mask quality and care. They want to encourage citizens to wear a level three grade mask to ensure that you have a high level of safety. If you’re wearing a disposable mask, make sure to throw it out after use, and if you have a cloth mask, ensure you wash it regularly.