Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a Florida supermarket is sparking outrage online after video surfaced of customers and employees going about their business without masks. The 15-second clip was shared Wednesday by NBC's Sam Brock, who was astonished when he walked into the popular Naples, Florida grocery store only to see people both young and old flouting the rules for mask-wearing. Brock in his tweet wrote that a sign outside the store cited "medical exemptions," preventing Brock from asking any questions.
The video has since been viewed more than 2 million times, raking in over 9,000 retweets and sparking even more comments from those outraged over the clip, which comes as the death toll in America continues to grow. Responding, one person wrote that "having a medical exemption for wearing a mask should not mean 'c'mon in and infect everybody,'" adding that it instead means, "you can get your groceries shopped and delivered to you at the sidewalk. Or delivered at home. Or some other method. It's not a free pass to be an a–hole." Somebody else said the video was "pathetic," with another person writing, "they're all immune, until they're not. And then an overworked, overstressed healthcare professional has to clean up their mess."
New video from a supermarket in Florida shows customers and employees of all ages openly rejecting the rules for mask wearing, spurring outrage as the country continues to battle the coronavirus. @SamBrockNBC reports. pic.twitter.com/wzhnI52Yuq— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 4, 2021
Several social media users noted that the owner, Alfie Oakes, is "notoriously anti-mask" and in the past has come under fire for calling both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement hoaxes. Oakes, who owns Oakes Farms Seed to Table, shared similar sentiments when speaking with Brock in an interview that aired Thursday on the Today show.
"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," Oakes said. "Why don't we shut the world down because of a heart attack? Why don't we lock down cities because of heart attacks?"
Despite Oakes' remarks, mask-wearing has been widely encouraged throughout the course of the pandemic as a means of slowing the spread of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread" of the virus. The CDC also notes that masks help "reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets," which is "especially relevant for asymptomatic or presymptomatic infected wearers who feel well and may be unaware of their infectiousness to others." These people are estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions.