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Florida grocery store bucks mask mandate; owner says Covid death toll is 'hogwash'

The owner of Oakes Farms Seed to Table Market in Naples said he knows masks do not work.
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A video that was taken at a South Florida grocery store shows nearly every customer and employee without a mask.

The footage was filmed this week at Oakes Farms Seed to Table Market in Naples, about 42 miles south of Fort Myers. In it, not a mask is in sight and social distancing is not being followed.

As of Thursday morning, the video on NBC News correspondent Sam Brock's Twitter page has generated 7,600 comments, nearly 16,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes. Reactions run the gamut, with some defending the customers and employees and others expressing outrage.

The store's owner, Alfie Oakes, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. He told NBC's "TODAY" show he knows masks do not work and doesn't believe the coronavirus has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States.

"That's total hogwash," Oakes said, later adding, "Why don't we shut the world down because of the heart attacks? Why don't we lock down cities because of heart attacks?"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly stated that masks and social distancing can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

According to NBC News' latest data, the total number of deaths in the country climbed to more than 452,000, with Florida having the fourth-highest number of fatalities.

Collier County, where Naples is located, has seen more than 27,000 cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic and 413 deaths, according to the state's Department of Health website.

Even though the county has a mask mandate in place, Oakes' store has a sign out front that states customers do not have to wear one if they have a medical condition.

"Those in our lovely government have ordered all persons entering indoor facilities to wear a mask. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, you are exempt from this order. Due to HIPAA and the 4th Amendment we cannot legally ask you about your medical condition," it reads.

"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."

County Commissioner Andy Solis said his biggest fear is that Covid-19 cases will increase and the hospitals will become overwhelmed.

"It's very disappointing and very concerning," he said.