TREASURE COAST - Last week, we asked visitors to our Facebook pages what they thought of wearing masks.

Across our three primary Treasure Coast Facebook pages, one for each county, more than half of comments supported wearing masks, but there were differences.

In Martin County, 77% of respondents said they were wearing masks when in public. In St. Lucie County, 84% said they supported wearing masks.

That number dropped significantly in Indian River County, where only 57% supported wearing masks. While this was a very unscientific poll, that lack of compliance concerns Indian River County Administrator Jason Brown and Health Officer Miranda Hawker, who both used their June 19 COVID briefing to urge people to wear masks more.

Mr. Brown described the tools we have to stop the spread, some of which he compared to a “sledgehammer,” vs. others that he compared to a “scalpel.” The sledgehammers, Mr. Brown said are lockdowns and business closures. The scalpels are masks, social distancing, hand washing. Mr. Brown said he did not prefer the sledgehammer approach, as it leads to economic damages.

“In Indian River County, we have not as of yet required anyone to wear face masks out in public, or in our facilities, but we need to do a better job of encouraging people to do so,” Mr. Brown said. “And we need to communicate that better.”

“It’s important for everyone to understand that wearing the mask and social distancing are the type of fine tools that can enable us to not have to do lockdowns,” Mr. Brown continued. “We all need to start wearing those face masks and practicing social distancing when we’re out in public.”

The county administrator was wearing a mask throughout his briefing, as was Health Officer Hawker.

“My cloth face covering protects you, and your face covering protects me,” Ms. Hawker said. “That only works if all of us are wearing masks, which is very, very important.”

That concept has met some resistance in Indian River County.

“No mask unless I’m at work and have to,” said reader Jennifer Sanderson. “Too much CO2 from wearing it all day. I feel so much better when I walk out the door and rip that thing off! I don’t live in fear of the flu or anything else AND I work in the health field! Besides that....if you feel better standing further away from me, that’s just a bonus for me!”

Wayne Pless said “No mask, nowhere. Except in the office under threat of termination.”

Jacqueline Shepherd Schobert questioned the usefulness of masks. “Unless it is an N95 or better, masks give everyone a false sense of security.”

Debra La Rouche Jones called masks “hot and uncomfortable.”

Plenty of Indian River County readers disagreed, and urged their neighbors to wear masks.

“I wear it at all times when out,” said Jeanne Jaap Koontz. “I am not happy that many choose not to wear one at all and do not social distance. Those that choose not to wear one are being very inconsiderate.”

Melanie Maricic asked readers to consider that those they encounter may be compromised.

“I wear a mask in stores because I respect the fact that someone inside might be immunocompromised or care for someone who is,” said Ms. Maricic. “The employee who cashes you out may have a sick child or parent at home. It concerns me that the community seems so divided on this. I agree that it's not comfortable but if we all do our part we can all return to normal together. Why not think of a mask like a seat belt? It protects us and others. Doesn't seem like such a radical thought to simply wear one.”

Responding to those who complain that masks are uncomfortable, Colleen Audette said “it’s more comfortable than wearing a ventilator.”

In Martin County, sentiments on both sides were similar.

“Masks should not be mandatory,” said Lucy Campagno. “Only the higher power can protect us. We are believers.”

RJ Pozi also opposed making masks mandatory. “Any business that requires it won’t get my business.”

But most of our Martin County readers who responded supported wearing masks.

“I wear a mask to protect my family, especially my mom,” said Jennifer Bowman. “I even wear it at the drive-up to protect someone else's family who is handing me a coffee. My choice, the government doesn't need to mandate to tell me to be smart and think of others before myself.”

“My husband does all the outside shopping bc of my health issues,” said Carol Sawicki Wimpee. “He always wears a mask & a plastic face guard & gloves. He comes home, leaves his shoes outside, comes in & showers, throws his clothes in the laundry. We intend on doing this until there is a vaccine. Death does not become me.”

“I wear my mask every time I am in a public place; store, gas, etc.,” said Debbie Meurer. “I also think masks should be mandatory in public places. The restaurants that opened up early are now beginning to close, staff and patrons are coming down with the coronavirus. Common sense says IN PUBLIC PLACES WEAR A MASK.”

In St. Lucie County, where about 84% of our readers who responded support wearing masks, some questioned the usefulness of masks.

“They don't do a damn thing to protect you unless its 1 micron or below,” said Scott Macgraw. “Most in this county are wearing masks that don't stop anything.”

Sandra N Russell said those wearing masks are behaving like sheep.

“Just like MERSA, tests are going to show everyone has it,” said Ms. Russell. “Sheeple allow media to rule their lives. If you have an underlying condition, wear one for you. Masks are for the weak minded followers.”

Darrell Michael Schwartz disagreed, responding to Ms. Russell “Well if you get the Virus good Luck! If you get Sick good luck! We are not sheep go live your life we will live ours but do not put people down for protecting themselves.”

Alice Davis wants mask wearing to be mandatory, saying “I wear a mask everywhere I go. I wish the stores would enforce wearing a mask. If they don’t have a mask, give them one.”


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