Despite the county-wide lifting of a mask mandate, including in government buildings, the director of a Florida health department threatened to call the police when a mother refused to put on a mask.
On Oct. 6, Casey Goff—a Flagler Beach resident and mother of four—went to the Flagler County Health Department with her 3-year-old daughter to apply for a religious exemption. The effort was part of a proactive measure to opt out of any future efforts by the Flagler County School Board (FCSB) to impose mask mandates on her children.
“I walked in and a lady offered me a mask,” Goff explained to The Epoch Times, adding that she declined the mask and continued to the window to check in for her scheduled appointment.
After filling out four sets of paperwork, one for each of her children, Goff sat waiting. A half-hour later, Goff said Mr. Robert (Bob) Snyder the Health Officer at Flagler County Health Department walked past her and said something to the woman behind the counter.
“They called the lady over that was offering masks and she brought the box of masks over to me and told me to wear a mask or I couldn’t stay,” Goff said. “I then turned my video camera on and what happened next is absolute tyranny.”
“If you do business here, you have to wear a mask, ma’am,” Snyder is seen in the video telling Goff. He informs her “this is a health care facility” and then asks if he is being filmed, at which point Goff confirms she is filming him.
“I’m asking you to put [on] a mask, please,” Snyder insists.
“I’m not going to wear a mask,” Goff returned. “But I need to do my business.”
“Well, sorry, “Snyder counters. “I’m asking you to wear a mask, politely and nicely, please.”
“I understand,” Goff replies, explaining she cannot wear a mask because she can’t breathe when wearing a mask and that she isn’t “sick.”
“What business do you have here,” Snyder asks.
When Goff explains she is only there to apply for a religious exemption for her children, he seems to be accepting of her position and he asks the woman behind the counter to give her the paperwork for a “religious exemption.” A back and forth ensues regarding where in the facility Goff will have to go to complete her request and when it is determined she will have to enter their “clinical area,” Snyder returns to his position that she will have to wear a mask.
Goff declines, insisting she isn’t sick and she will not be within six feet of anyone. Snyder argues that masks are “a protective device to protect people from catching the virus.”
Goff argues that he and everyone else is wearing a mask, so why does she have to wear one if their masks are protecting them.
“You don’t have a right to possibly infect other people,” Snyder insists, at which point Goff reiterates that she isn’t sick. At that point, Snyder turns to tell the woman behind the plexiglass to call the police.
‘They Have to Accommodate Everyone’
“I’m not sick!” Goff told The Epoch Times. “I have the antibodies! The health department is a place of public accommodation and it’s the only place that I can go to get my religious exemption. They have to accommodate everyone and not discriminate. I’m not sure if he was trying to make a spectacle and teach me a lesson about control and his authority but what he did is not right, it’s not okay, and it’s not even legal.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the Flagler County Health Department for a statement regarding the confrontation.
“The Florida Department of Health in Flagler County is a health care facility that treats medically vulnerable individuals,” Gretchen Smith Communications Manager & Public Information Officer for Florida Department of Health in Flagler, told The Epoch Times. “Accordingly, we require, as an entity, masks inside our offices—just like hospitals and other health care facilities do. Our goal during this pandemic has been to prevent any situation that would place our employees and clients in harm’s way.”
However, at their May 3 board meeting, the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners (FCBOCC) voted to rescind the county’s mask requirement effective immediately. This ruling includes all government buildings.
Smith further insisted that “after asking Mrs. Goff to comply with our mask requirement, she refused, became angry and disruptive to other clients as she began filming with her cellphone in our lobby.”
However, from multiple videos supplied to The Epoch Times by Goff, there there was only one other person in the lobby and Goff remained calm.
“This prompted staff to call the Bunnell Police in case we needed help escorting her from the property,” Smith said further. “Fortunately, the police did not have to intervene, and our nurse handled Mrs. Goff’s request for religious exemptions while standing outside of the building,” Smith added.
Another video supplied by Goff showed Snyder asking the nurse if Goff could complete her paperwork outside. The nurse said she could and Goff agreed to go with her to complete the forms outside.
“We ask everyone who enters this building to wear a mask and will continue this practice until COVID-19 is behind us once and for all,” Smith concluded.
However, aside from the fact that the FCBOCC had rescinded the county mask mandate, numerous experts have said it is unlikely we will ever eradicate COVID-19, especially considering the mutations like the Delta variant.
Sir Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group and one of the lead researchers in the creation of the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine told British lawmakers in August that—as COVID-19 vaccines did not stop the spread of the virus entirely because fully vaccinated people are known to still contract and spread the virus—the idea of ever achieving herd immunity is “mythical.”
Rustom Antia, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta told The New York Times that “the virus is unlikely to go away.”
Even Dr. Anthony Fauci has said it is unlikely the coronavirus will ever be eradicated.
Debate on Masks Continues
“One more thing to clarify,” Smith said in a second response to The Epoch Times by email. “There are no religious exemptions for masks. There are only religious exemptions for school-required vaccines for children under age 18.”
By the age of 18, the vast majority of children have already graduated, and while the Flagler Schools Back to School Plans for Health, Safety and Learning During COVID-19 states “face coverings are optional and will be provided to students and staff if requested,” members of the FCSB had again addressed the issue of imposed mask mandates at their Sept. 7 meeting.
While board member Jill Woolbright emphasized that imposing mask mandates were legally off the table until the governor’s ban on masks was overturned, board member Colleen Conklin argued that evidence showed masks help mitigate the spread of the virus.
Conversely, information drawn from recently released Florida Department of Health and Florida Department of Education—obtained by The Epoch Times from Christina Pushaw, Press Secretary for the Executive Office of Gov. Ron DeSantis—shows masks have little to no effect in preventing the spread of the virus.
According to the latest statistics, new COVID-19 cases for children ages 5–17 decreased 79 percent during the month of September in the 54 Florida counties where school districts have no mask mandates or are following state law by honoring the parental opt-out rule.
By comparison, COVID-19 cases for children in the same age group in the 13 districts that imposed forced-masking in schools decreased 77 percent.
Additionally, the 54 Florida districts with opt-outs or no mask mandates have also seen “an average decrease of 65 percent in positivity from Aug. 19—when school started—to Sept. 30. In the meantime, the 13 districts that imposed mask mandates without offering an opt-out provision for parents have seen an average decrease of 67 percent.
“That is to say, the data for this school year to date shows no impact of forced masking in schools on pediatric COVID-19 prevalence,” Pushaw noted. “This is not surprising, since there were no statistically significant differences in case rates in forced-masking versus mask-optional schools during the 2020-21 school year in Florida.”
“Once again,” Pushaw said of the newly released statistics, “reality has directly contradicted the dire predictions of lock down and mandate advocates, who insisted that opening schools without mask mandates would cause an explosion of infections.”
“I wasn’t a threat to them,” Goff said. “No one was belligerent. I wasn’t disruptive. I’ve already had the virus. I have antibodies. I know Flagler County no longer has a mask mandate. This was coming from a place of control, not safety. This was about the health officer trying to make an example of me.”