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Twitter data ranks Florida 3rd for anti-mask activity on social platform

Is Florida anti-mask? It depends on who you ask. But based on a Twitter survey that looked at 150,000 tweets and hashtags, Florida is the third state with the most anti-mask activity. Nevada and Arizona are considered to be a bit heavier in anti-mask activity on Twitter.

We went to downtown Naples Friday to chat with the public about both sides of the mask divide during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the Twitter data only tracked anti-mask tweets, there is pro-mask activity in each state still as well. That’s why we visited 5th Avenue to see what people thought about the survey.

“It does not surprise me … because, you know, it’s half and half,” Jackie Mullen said.

Many people we met in Naples said they were not surprised to hear Florida ranked third for anti-mask-wearing activity.

“It is surprising,” said Felipe Cortez, visiting from Miami. “I would think people would take this more seriously.”

The software used by Twitter tracks hashtags such as #nomask, #burnyourmask, and #antimask.

“I think it’s a personal opinion,” Marilyn Moll-Ruggeri said.

Moll-Ruggeri says she doesn’t like wearing a mask because it’s hard for her to breathe.

“I don’t feel like it is going to help me,” Moll-Ruggeri said. “I have asthma, and I think it hurts because you’re breathing in the same air over and over again.”

Peter Richter agreed with her.

“To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the masks,” Richter said. “The virus is much smaller than the holes in the mask.”

Others walking down 5th Ave. were shocked to see people not wearing them.

“We’re like, ‘Wow, there’s so many people here without a mask,’” said Gigi Cupido, visiting from Miami. “So we’re a little shocked.”

Cupido believes Florida is seeing high numbers because of people not following the guidelines.

“We have to do our part,” Cupido said.

Others agree.

“People want to do what they want to do,” Barbra Gotkin said. “They don’t want to listen to what you should do, and you should wear the mask.”

In Southwest Florida, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and Punta Gorda have mask mandates. Charlotte County plans to discuss a mask mandate Tuesday.

“If you can help it by wearing a mask, why wouldn’t you?” Cortez said.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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