DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Several mothers in Florida were removed by law enforcement from a school board meeting Tuesday after they ignored repeated requests to wear masks during a discussion on whether the school district should extend its mandatory mask policy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
No one was arrested, but seven people were trespassed, which means they can’t return to the property for one year, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
“I’ve never put a mask on my face, and I never will,” one of the women, Rachael Cohen, said in a Facebook video of the meeting. “It’s just absolute tyranny.”
The Volusia County School Board adopted a mandatory mask policy that applies to students, staff and visitors on school district property, but it expires early next month. School board members were voting on whether to extend the policy at Tuesday’s meeting.
The school district made many attempts at diplomacy, but the group of women made it clear they were taking a stand against face coverings, said Cindi Lane, a district spokeswoman.
It was “quite disruptive,” Lane said.
Florida health officials reported nearly 4,300 new virus cases on Tuesday as the number of patients hospitalized with the COVID-19 disease also ticked upward over the past few days.
The Florida Department of Health has reported at least 16,709 deaths since the pandemic began.
The additional cases announced Tuesday bring the state's total virus cases to more than 786,000. That brings the seven-day average of new cases above 3,600, similar to levels in late August when the state’s outbreak was coming down from its summertime peak.
There were 2,333 people being treated for the disease in Florida hospitals in the late morning Tuesday, according to a state online census of hospital beds. That figure reached nearly 10,000 in late July, then declined steadily until late September when it began hovering between 2,000 and 2,200 for several weeks.
The numbers of deaths per day have continued to decline, averaging about 57 a day over the past week, down from a high of 185 in early August.