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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

With Florida at the forefront of the nation's COVID surge, local governments across Tampa Bay are wondering if — or how — they can subvert Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration to do something to slow the spread.

Why it matters: A day after Florida broke its record for daily cases, it did the same for the total number of COVID hospitalizations — set way back in July 2020, per the AP.

State of play: Leaders who want to reinstate mask policies find their hands tied.

  • St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman told Axios that he's "frustrated that the state has seen fit to tie the hands of local leaders, when our only goal is the health and safety of our citizens." He's reconvened his COVID team to discuss how to tackle the surge.
  • The City of Tampa is requiring its vaccinated workers to wear a button or wristband if unmasked while unvaccinated workers must mask up, according to Adam Smith, a spokesman for Mayor Jane Castor. No other new polices are planned, he added.
  • Hillsborough County Commission chair Pat Kemp told the Times/Herald she wants to pass another countywide mask ordinance, but she'd be breaking state law. For now, Hillsborough only requires masks inside county buildings.
  • State courts in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties started requiring masks inside their buildings this week.

The big picture: Beyond the mask debate, local leaders are doing all they can to encourage vaccinations.

  • Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody told Axios his main concern is making sure citizens get a shot, calling it "the most important thing right now."
  • Pinellas County Commission chair Dave Eggers told the Times/Herald that "we have what we need" to combat COVID, adding that any mask mandates should be "a statewide call."
  • New Hillsborough County employees will be required to be fully vaccinated by the end of the month, per WTSP.
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Go deeper

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

D.C. school employees required to get vaccinated

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

All D.C. school and daycare employees — public, private, and charter — must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 with no option to test out, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today.

  • Student athletes over the age of 12 will also be required to get vaccinated in order to participate in after-school programs, the mandate says. 

Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (left) and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Photos: Montinique Monroe and Win McNamee via Getty Images

The Education Department is investigating Texas' ban on mask mandates and its possible violation of disability rights.

Why it matters: Texas is one of several states under investigation for mask mandate bans that have impacted schools across the U.S.

Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples

The San Diego California Temple in La Jolla, California. Photo: RBL/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told its members on Wednesday that all patrons and workers will be required to wear face masks at all times while in the temple.

Why it matters: It's the Mormon Church's latest effort to encourage masking and vaccination among its over 16.6 million members around the world.