County commission to mandate masks for employees and in County buildings

Chair Ken Cornell


During the COVID-19 discussion at today’s Alachua County Commission meeting, the board heard an update from Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) Chief Harold Theus. Theus said local hospitals are “taxed” with a lot of COVID-19 patients, rivaling last year’s spike. He said that ACFR added a rescue unit to transport additional patients to the hospital, but they haven’t had enough staff to fill it. They’ve started transporting more patients to free-standing emergency rooms instead of hospital emergency rooms and stopped transporting step-down patients to other counties.

Theus said he received an update yesterday afternoon from the hospitals: North Florida Regional Medical Center (NFRMC) had 120 COVID-positive patients, with 24 in the ICU. 90-92% of the patients are unvaccinated, and all of the ICU patients are unvaccinated. UF Health Shands had 152 COVID-positive patients, with 33 in the ICU. Shands also has 9 pediatric patients, with 4 in the ICU.

Theus emphasized that our hospitals are regional and are bringing in significant numbers of patients from surrounding counties–Lake City was mentioned repeatedly as sending patients to NFRMC. NFRMC is temporarily discontinuing elective surgeries to free up space. He said that both hospitals were confident that they could manage their capacity and that the hospitals are “not even close” to being full.

New County policies

County Manager Michele Lieberman presented new policies that she will enact in the coming days and weeks. She said that starting tomorrow, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be required to wear masks inside buildings controlled by the County.

Lieberman said she’s not comfortable recommending mandatory vaccines for employees; she recommended a policy that allows employees to have a choice about being vaccinated, but the County “still needs to protect our employees as a whole, and we still need to protect the public.”

All employees who are fully-vaccinated will have until August 31 to provide proof of vaccination; if no proof is provided, the employee will be considered unvaccinated. Fully-vaccinated employees will have to wear a mask indoors, in meetings, or with customers, unless eating, drinking, or sleeping (applies mainly to firefighters). Unvaccinated employees will be required to wear a mask at all times, including outdoors or within firehouses, unless eating, drinking, or sleeping. Unvaccinated employees will be required to test weekly, and that will begin as soon as the logistics are addressed but no later than September 1.

As previously announced, unvaccinated employees will not be able to travel at County expense.

The County will reinstitute a one-week paid leave for vaccinated employees who test positive. Unvaccinated employees will not be eligible for the paid leave.

The County will also discourage in-person staff meetings and any employee gatherings for non-business reasons. They are looking into using American Rescue Plan funds to incentivize the vaccine.

Commissioners asked about making vaccines mandatory for employees, and Lieberman responded that she had as much operational concern about losing employees because of such a policy as from COVID-19.

Chair Ken Cornell said, “The science says [the vaccine] will protect you, it will protect your families.” He said County employees have called him, saying they’re concerned about other employees who say they have a right to not get vaccinated. Cornell said employees tell him, “What about my rights? I have a 10-year-old. I live with my 90-year-old grandmother. I can’t get COVID and take it home. I don’t want to be around other employees who aren’t vaccinated.” Cornell added, “I want to make sure [employees are] protected.”

Lieberman said she views the policy as an interim step and hopes staff “rise to the occasion… To the staff, I want to be clear: if this doesn’t work, then I will be standing here recommending mandatory vaccinations.”

  • Why mandate masks? Less than 25% of employees are even working in their offices. Even those are the employees at the bottom of the wage ladder.

    If they really meant business, once they mandate vaccinations they will hold people who refuse accountable and put them on leave without pay. Let the public really see the control they want over their lives.

    Must be nice to hold a couple meetings and make, not earn, $70k and have so much control.

    • There’s going to be a problem with mandatory vaccines…I am healthy and the mob wants to grab me
      At gun point and give me a vaccine? Hmmmm. I love
      The US constitution. God bless America!

  • If wearing a mask provides protection, the person desiring protection should wear one. Period. That the experimental gene therapies masquerading as “vaccines” are not working is becoming more apparent every day, Good thing there are excellent treatment protocols that include Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine so we need not worry.

  • Masks and experimental gene therapies are irrelevant. The recovery rate for this is excellent and with protocols available that include ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, this weeping and gnashing of teeth is embarrassing.

  • This is all to be expected in a sleazy college town dominated by UF Medical which gets huge grants from the NIH. Defy anything the ghoul Dr. Tony Fouci wants and the grants dry up. To sum it up — UF and their cadre of doctors are mostly captives of Fouci and they piss their pants at the thought of defying him. Supposedly 92% of those hospitalized are “unvaccinated?” Israel which uses the Pfizer “vaccine,” has publicly announced (on NBC TV) that their number is about 50%. So what is so different in Alachua County? The 92% number is suspect at best. Evidence from Iceland, Gibralter, Singapore and may other places clearly indicates that vaccinated persons are coming down with COVID at rates up to 75%. Furthermore, this pinhead Ken Cornell, who appears to be a neurotic bed wetter in my opinion, is so concerned about the “public health,” but apparently has neglected to do anything to apprise the public of the many measures they can take to treat “COVID” such as using Ivermectin which UF Health does not endorse but which is used successfully in Mexico and many other countries. Tanzania has had virtually no COVID without taking vaccines because nearly everybody there regularly takes prophylactic hydroxychloroquine to prevent malaria. Taking Vitamin D, Vitamin C, zinc, quercetin, and many other cheap substances have been known to produce excellent results in strengthening the immune system. But the key element here is that they are all dirt cheap and they reportedly help keep people out of the hospital Now on the other hand, it is known that the U.S. government pays a hospital around $13,000 per COVID diagnosis and $49,000 per ventilator therapy (which in NY City had an 80% failure rate). Sounds like the whole gang of local medical ghouls and the hack politicians who are subservient to UF’s interests all have a strong incentive to avoid telling the public about self-help measures to keep themselves out of the hospital. Oh yes, but Cornell and his associate commissioner hacks do tell people to wear face diapers. Has Kenny boy read any of the numerous studies from all over the world which show conclusively that face diapers have had no effect in lowering infection rates? Senator Rand Paul, himself a doctor, said publicly that masks are just theater (for the paranoid and neurotic). Remember when all this COVID hysteria started last year? Remember how the numbskull Gainesville City and Alachua County Commissioners locked down most businesses but kept the liquor stores opened? It has been well established that too much alcohol weakens the immune system. Did these fool commissioners ever apprise the public of that fact? It would be too easy to merely call these clowns incompetent or stupid. They evidently may be all that, but more certainly pragmatic. UF is the dog that wags the tail in this county, and these weak kneed commissioners don’t have the spine to oppose UF and its financial interests in subordinating themselves to the quack doctor Fauci.

  • Spot on! If only the smug liberals in this town would gather their opinions from credible news outlets versus MSNBC, CNN, ABC, etc.
    Liberal propaganda is rampant!

  • By the way, all this hysteria over a disease that has a 99.98 percent survival rate for people up to 14 years of age. Even the very old have a 98 percent survival rate assuming they have no serious co-morbidities. It is the morbidly obese and the sickly who are dying, mainly because they were already dying of something else already. “County Manager Michele Lieberman presented new policies that she will enact in the coming days and weeks. She said that starting tomorrow, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be required to wear masks inside buildings controlled by the County.” Vaccinated must wear masks too? Does UF teach any courses in logic? Logically all this implies that the vaccines are a failure. Very credible virologists and microbiologists all over the world have warned about the following danger: If you mass vaccinate people during a pandemic, just as antibiotics have mutated many bacteria into untreatable pathogens, mRNA “vaccines” which are not really vaccines because they do not facilitate sterilization of viruses that enter the body, will cause mutation of those viruses into potentially more harmful variants. Oh wow, could it be that so many people who have taken the jabs are now super spreaders of the Delta variant which mutated in their bodies? Check the hard data from many other countries where the more vaccines they pump the more incidence of Delta variant they are seeing. The whole mask thing and “vaccine” campaign have been colossal failures. Does this guy Ken Cornell follow the VAERS system CDC data for mRNA vaccine deaths and serious injuries? Has this clown even heard of it? Does he care? Does this hack County Manager Michele Lieberman follow such data? Has she even seen the recent study which shows that masks are filthy face diapers which are actually making people sick? Is there any truth to the notion that the most incompetent idiots always go into government because they are incapable of doing real honest work? Hmmmn!

    • It’s all a scam to create a one world totalitarian government…”Covid is nothing more than a renamed
      Seasonal cold virus”…just like you said, “eat well, take vitamins, get plenty of fresh water & sunshine”..if you
      Get sick, treat the symptoms with NyQuil. Only commies
      And hypochondriacs wear the mask. Very easy to find

  • This is all a PlanDEMIC/contingency plan by the Democrats which was planned when President Trump decided to run for office and then to kill his candidacy for a second term.

    President Trump the true guardian of our CONSERVATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC a GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE and FOR THE PEOPLE not what we see today as GANGSTERMENT which is a corrupt totalitarian government OF THEMSELVES BY THEMSELVES and FOR THEMSELVES against WE THE PEOPLE

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