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00000177-b32b-d5f4-a5ff-bbfb6e660000Here is the information you need to know about COVID-19 in Northwest Florida. We will keep this post updated with the latest information from local, and statewide agencies. For inforamtion from Centers for Disease Control and prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirusFor updates on Florida cases of coronavirus, visit the FDOH dashboard.The COVID-19 call center is available at 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121

Walton County Sheriff's Office Delivers 3,700 Safety Masks

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Walton County Sheriff's Office
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The Walton County Sheriff’s Office is doing its part to protect residents from spreading COVID-19 by delivering more than 3,700 safety masks to residents from Paxton to Miramar Beach.

“Our first duty is public safety,” said WCSO Public Information Officer Corey Dobridnia. 

The Sheriff’s Office spent about $15,000 on masks purchased from Professional Products in DeFuniak Springs. The funds come from forfeitures — proceeds of criminal activity including cash, technology, cars, and more. Attorney Clayton Adkinson also donated funds to the cause. 

“What better way to spend that money?” Dobridnia said. “It was bad money coming into the county and it came out like gold.”

The masks were available on a first-come-first-served basis and the response was overwhelming, said Dobridnia. The service was an agency-wide effort from the staff who took the calls and bagged up the masks, to the deputies and citizen volunteers who delivered the masks. 

Masks are becoming more common in public areas following a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control earlier this month. But not everyone has access to one. There was a need especially in the north end of the county. Dobridnia said delivering the masks was also an outlet for outreach for residents who may not have interacted with their local law enforcement. 

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Credit Walton County Sheriff's Office
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Walton County Sheriff's Office Deputy delivers a safety mask. In some rural parts of the county, residents do not have easy access to supplies.

“Everything is so widespread up north, it makes it very difficult to find supplies, even outside a pandemic,” said Dobridnia. 

The total number of masks delivered was 3,720. But the number of residents who may benefit from the masks is greater as the masks not only protect those who are wearing them, but everyone around them.

Starting Friday, WCSO deputies will have a new task on their hands: enforcing social distancing on the beaches. Commissioners voted unanimously to reopen beaches with no time restrictions starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday. While most typical beach activities will be allowed, sunbathing is prohibited. Dobridnia said deputies will use a “professional, reasonable approach” to enforcing the rules. 

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.