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Florida sheriff bans deputies and visitors from wearing face masks

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods details the new rules in a memo sent to employees.

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A central Florida sheriff says his deputies won’t be allowed to wear face masks except under some conditions, and neither will visitors to the sheriff’s office. 

The Ocala Star-Banner first reported about the memo sent to employees, in which Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods wrote "my order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office -- masks will not be worn."

Woods said there are exceptions for those working at the jail, the courthouse, in schools and in hospitals.

For visitors to the sheriff's office, anyone wearing a mask will be asked to remove it.

"In light of the current events when it comes to the sentiment and/or hatred toward law enforcement in our country today, this is being done to ensure there is clear communication and for identification purposes" of people coming into the department's lobby," Woods wrote in the memo.

The Star-Banner reported Marion County saw a record-high number of new deaths reported on Tuesday with 13.

RELATED: Another 213 people in Florida have died after testing positive for COVID-19

Woods also made the announcement on the week that Florida had some of its highest days of coronavirus deaths. On Wednesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 213 new deaths from COVID-19. 

Also on Wednesday, there more than 8,100 new infections reported, for a total of more than 550,000 cases in the state since the pandemic started. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July asked Americans to wear masks to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus.