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Broward Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate For County-Owned Buildings

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A day after Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced that there is now a mask mandate for indoor areas of county-owned facilities, Broward is following suit.

In a press release, Broward County announced that starting Friday, all "employees and visitors to Broward County facilities will be required to wear a facial covering when indoors at all County facilities regardless of vaccination status."

"I'm very scared and I'm also very angry. This pandemic, people are getting hospitalized, they're dying, and it's almost entirely preventable," said Broward Mayor Steve Geller.

The mayor said those hospitalized and dying from the virus are mostly unvaccinated.

"Ninety nine percent or so of people dying are unvaccinated, 97 percent or more of the people being hospitalized are unvaccinated and that's in a county where the majority of people are already vaccinated," said Geller.

He said for those holding off on getting vaccinated, or don't plan to get one at all, the time to act is now.

"Right now, as far as we know, the existing COVID vaccines work for the Delta variant. If it keeps spreading there will be some Greek letter (variant) where the vaccines aren't working so well," said Geller.

That mandate will cover places like the County Administration Building, public libraries and any building run by the county.

The Broward School board voted unanimously Wednesday to require returning students to wear masks too. They're following the recommendation from the CDC, and gearing up for a potential battle with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who opposes mask mandates.

Meanwhile, the long lines for coronavirus tests are back.

As we're seeing the fourth COVID wave move in, people are anxious to get tested again.

"I've been here for 45 minutes, it's just a huge circle, I've noticed, you just go in a huge circle and it's crazy," said Emma Downing as she waited in line at Mills Pond Park.

Downing works at a pre-school. She said right now she has a cold, so needs a test before going back. She's not too concerned that it's COVID but plans on making a few changes.

"I'm fully vaccinated so I didn't think I needed to wear a mask. It's been like two weeks, I haven't worn a mask and now I'm sick. So I know I'm going to be wearing masks a lot more now," said Downing.

The wait time at Mills Pond Park was more than two hours.

"I came here to get tested in April before a trip and it was dead here. Three cars ahead of me and I was in and out in 30 minutes. So to come here yesterday and see the line and see it today was surprising and shows me there are more cases now," said Monica Delavecchia.

For people like Delavecchia, she had no choice but to wait.

"My husband's mother and grandmother tested positive for COVID and he was with them over the weekend. He got tested yesterday, I'm getting tested today," she said.

More people will be wearing masks in the coming days as the numbers continue to rise. While Florida is not releasing daily numbers anymore, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is. According to the latest tally, on Tuesday Florida reported there were more than 16,000 new cases, that's up from 1,300 a month earlier.

As cases continue to rise, so will wait times at test sites.

"A few weeks ago, before we saw this spike in numbers, you could get in and out without a wait. But as you see now, there's a wait and it varies depending on the time of day and demand. We're seeing lines again even before the site even opens," test site spokesman Mike Jachles.

According to the CDC, 62 percent of Broward has received at least one dose of a vaccine and just over 51 percent is fully vaccinated.

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