PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Pasco County Government is recommending the continued use of face coverings in indoor places, but face coverings will no longer be required. The announcement was made on Monday.
Officials said the county weighed several factors including lower COVID-19 hospitalization rates and increasing vaccination rates.
The executive order stated, "Positive cases are predominately in the age group below 50 who tend to have better outcomes than the older population and the death rate is reflective of this trend."
On Monday, April 5, the state said anyone 18 or older may receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Cars were leaving the vaccination site at Raymond James Stadium off of North Himes Avenue in Tampa on Monday evening around dinner time.
"My daughter, she’s 17, her boyfriend, he’s 18, I got my J&J a couple of weeks ago so we’re really excited to be vaccinated and be able to get back to normal," said Eleanore Doyle, who took her daughter to get vaccinated.
State officials said anyone under the age of 18 receiving a vaccine must be accompanied by a guardian and complete a COVID-19 vaccine screening and consent form. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people ages 16 and up.
"I was just ready, frankly, I saw the opportunity. I’m low risk, but why not get it if it’s here and it’s accessible for me," said 18-year-old Anna Woodward.
A spokesperson for Pasco County Schools said despite the county rescinding the countywide mask mandate, masks are still required on school campuses and district buildings.
"We're really close to the end of the school year and we really think that it makes a difference. We really think that we’ve been able to keep the numbers down in terms of infections and quarantines. We’ve had our share definitely, but we think it has helped to reduce the number. We would really like to get through the school year healthy," said Steve Hegarty, Public Information Officer for Pasco Schools.
Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a distinguished USF Health Professor at the College of Public Health, said people should still practice social distancing and wear masks.
"We're currently in a real race between the spread of these variants and the fourth wave which we're starting to experience now where the numbers are starting to come up," said Dr. Unnasch. "Let's just wear the masks for another six weeks and all get vaccinated then we can go back to our regular lives. Let’s not give up and lay down right before the finish line."