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CNBC Airs ‘Shocking’ Footage Of Florida Residents Not Wearing Masks. Florida Is Doing Better Than Many Mask-Mandated States.
Broadcast Journalist Shepard Smith during an interview on September 28, 2020
NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

CNBC host Shepard Smith was aghast to see footage taken inside a supermarket in Naples, Florida, showing most employees and customers not wearing face masks even though we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.

“We all fantasize about a time when we won’t have to wear the masks anymore,” Smith began the segment, which aired on Wednesday. “It’s not now, but some at a supermarket in Florida appear to have decided that the time is now.”

Footage taken by NBC’s Sam Brock then played, showing customers at the checkout lanes at a grocery store not wearing masks. The employees largely weren’t wearing masks either. The footage was shown with the same tone and level of shock that is usually reserved for video of the aftermath from natural disasters.

“Look at this,” Smith said, “this was the scene at Oakes Farms Seed to Table Market in Naples today. NBC’s Sam Brock took this video, which went viral. It looks like it was taken pre-pandemic, right? Most customers and employees not wearing masks at all (emphasis original).”

Smith then showed the store’s mask exemption guidelines, which state that “If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from” wearing one.

It adds: “Due to [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] HIPAA and the 4th Amendment we cannot legally ask you about your medical condition. Therefore, if we see you without a mask, we will assume you have a medical condition and we will welcome you inside to support our business.”

Smith framed this policy as somehow shocking.

Brock questioned the store’s owner about the policy, asking questions designed to show the business owner as unintelligent or believing conspiracy theories.

“Is your position about medical exemptions or is it about the fact that you don’t think masks work and the virus is not a real… [unintelligible],” Brock asked.

Alfie Oakes, the store owner, responded to the leading questions by saying, “I know that the masks don’t work and I know that the virus has not killed 400,000 people in this country. That’s total hogwash.”

Smith cut away from whatever else Oakes was about to say to insist that “masks do work, the science is crystal clear.” Smith then reported that in July 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States “could get COVID under control in four to eight weeks if we would only all wear masks.”

Florida does not mandate people wear face masks, yet the state with one of the largest senior populations in the country is doing much better, statistically, than many states with mask mandates and government restrictions on businesses. New York, for example, has had 43,687 deaths from COVID-19 despite having a smaller population than Florida, which has had 27,018 deaths from the virus.

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