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Hillsborough EPG member questions why nonprofits were exempt from mask ordinance

Student at nonprofit tested positive for COVID-19
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Posted at 5:11 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 20:18:29-04

TAMPA, Fla. — A loophole in Hillsborough County’s mask ordinance that exempt nonprofit organizations, have come into question by a local leader.

I-Team investigator Adam Walser uncovers the health scare at one nonprofit kids' summer camp by not requiring everyone to wear a mask

RELATED: Hillsborough EPG approves changes to mask order, customers can now be fined for not wearing masks

When the Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group adopted a mask ordinance in June, religious organizations, private clubs and nonprofits were exempt from those rules.

The I-Team has learned one Hillsborough nonprofit, an arts and theater program, used that loophole to make masks optional for its kids' camp.

On June 23, parents of children in the program got an email telling them their kids didn’t have to wear masks.

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Five days later, parents got a second email, announcing a student at the camp came down with COVID-19 symptoms and their children may have been exposed.

“Nonprofit is a tax status. It’s no different than any other business. So I was kind of perplexed. I was like why do we need to take out nonprofits?” said Hillsborough County Kimberly Overman, who is a member of the EPG.

“This virus doesn’t care. Its job is to find someone to live in, that’s it. Period. And so these programs that don’t insist on using one of the main methods to fight the virus aren’t helping themselves,” she said.

The director of that art program told the I-Team she shut down the camp immediately after the child got sick and they are currently evaluating how to move forward with fall classes.

As of Monday, the county changed its rules to require masks at nonprofits that provide goods or services to the public.

Activities involving children under the age of 18 are still exempt from the mask rules.

If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email us at adam@abcactionnews.com