Health experts and local leaders were stunned Wednesday when Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis extended his order barring towns, cities, and counties from enforcing local mask mandates even amid a disturbing spike in COVID-19 cases.

DeSantis extended an earlier order prohibiting localities from fining people who refuse to wear masks, effectively rendering mandates unenforceable.

He extended the order less than a week after a bipartisan group of mayors pleaded with him to issue a statewide mask mandate. Experts widely regard masks as a simple, effective way to stem the tide of COVID-19. DeSantis is reportedly no longer taking phone calls from mayors.

Chris King, the 2018 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, tweeted a news story of DeSantis’ latest move with a comment calling the decision a “killing spree.”

Alternate headline: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Continues Killing Spree https://t.co/Wh0spcg3RG

— Chris King (@ChrisKingFL) November 25, 2020

“I. Have. No. Words. Anymore,” tweeted epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, a senior fellow in the Federations of American Scientists. “God help Florida. God help us all.”

Florida @GovRonDeSantis Extends Ban On Cities Imposing Their Own Mask Mandates—Critic Calls Move A ‘Killing Spree’. I. Have. No. Words. Anymore. God help Florida. God help us all. 😥#COVID19 https://t.co/YBPOe7MvUl pic.twitter.com/rSh5cVyAxe

— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) November 26, 2020

Florida was one of the last states to institute any restrictions to battle COVID-19. DeSantis then allowed restaurants and bars to reopen at 100% capacity beginning in September. That’s when he also barred enforcement of local mask mandates.

Bipartisan governors nationwide are putting mask orders in place as one of the best tools we have to fight #COVID19. It’s deeply frustrating that @GovRonDeSantis continues to block local actions and make it harder for local leaders to keep our communities safe.#MaskUpMiami 😷 https://t.co/32yI1MA5Eo

— Daniella Levine Cava (@MayorDaniella) November 25, 2020

Despite the governor’s order, the city of Miami Beach is planning to enforce its mask mandate — as much as it can — through the busy holiday weekend, WSVN Channel 7 News reported. It will issue citations and a $50 fine, even though it can’t legally collect the money as long as the governor’s order is in place.

Florida is close to its 1 millionth case of COVID-19 with more than 54,000 hospitalizations and more than 18,000 deaths.

DeSantis has been keeping an extremely low profile this month and wasn’t seen in public for 13 days at one point. He held his last press conference on Nov. 4 — to talk about the election.

Our governor is nowhere to be found,” State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando told Spectrum News 13.

“He’s avoiding interaction with the public, he’s not holding press conferences, he’s not taking questions from the media, and there’s a reason,” Smith added. “He doesn’t want to be held accountable.”

Every health care worker in the United States should threaten to strike if their state government doesn't mandate the most basic Covid protections – like masks and crowd control.For the love of God, they aren't United States Marines.

— Jonathan Gaffney 🇺🇸 (@JGaffneyUSN) November 26, 2020 Download Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter Join HuffPost

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https://www.huffpost.com/entry/desantis-no-mask-mandate-covid-surge_n_5fc04d82c5b68ca87f82d5b8

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