City of Sarasota giving away up to 50,000 masks to help stop spread of COVID-19

‘Mask Mobile’ being deployed in the city

A City of Sarasota staff member gives away one of the 50,000 masks. Image courtesy City of Sarasota via Twitter

City of Sarasota staff will be giving away up to 50,000 protective face masks over the next week in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community, the city has announced.

“Select staff members have been equipped with both traditional paper masks and cloth masks and are offering them to maskless visitors and residents they encounter as they perform their duties throughout Sarasota,” a news release explains. The “Mask Mobile,” a small electric city vehicle outfitted with a white surgical mask across the front grill, “will scoot around town to promote mask usage in public,” the release says.

City leaders have “strongly urged the public to wear protective masks when leaving home” as part of the city’s weekly extension of a public health emergency declaration, the release continues The city distributed 10,000 masks to residents in May.

The Florida Department of Health also recently issued a public health advisory recommending that all individuals in Florida wear masks in any setting where social distancing is not possible, the release points out. (See the related article in this issue.)

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth face coverings may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others,” the release adds.

“Public health experts have made it clear that whenever social distancing is not possible, face coverings are the next best option for halting the spread of this highly contagious virus,” said City Manager Tom Barwin in the release. “If a pre-symptomatic person and COVID-free person are both wearing masks when crossing paths, the possible spread of the virus is reduced by 95 percent,” he added in the release.

“In April,” Barwin continued, “an online survey we conducted showed that 71 percent of the 1,400 respondents want masks to be required in public until the COVID-19 threat has passed. Our goal is to help facilitate and encourage everyone to be a kind neighbor and adopt this simple practice of wearing a mask when away from home.”

Barwin added, “Thank you to Rosemary District residents David Hough and Moriah Taliaferro for their involvement, input and creativity with this public outreach campaign.”