Governor DeSantis lacks the compassion and common sense to get us out of this pandemic. I continue to stand with teachers, parents, and school boards doing what's right for our students. We need a leader, not a dictator. — Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor
Governor DeSantis lacks the compassion and common sense to get us out of this pandemic. I continue to stand with teachers, parents, and school boards doing what's right for our students. We need a leader, not a dictator. — Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor

These unconstitutional threats from DeSantis and Corcoran aren't about individual rights or freedom. They're about pandering to the most extreme voices in order to score political points at the expense of your kids, your family. — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida
These unconstitutional threats from DeSantis and Corcoran aren't about individual rights or freedom. They're about pandering to the most extreme voices in order to score political points at the expense of your kids, your family. — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida

Ron DeSantis leans into mask-mandate fights as Covid cases soar in Florida
The gamble appears to be paying off -- for now. DeSantis is a Fox News darling and relishes the intensifying backlash from Democrats, especially President Joe Biden, who has criticized the governor and other Republican state executives for rejecting recommendations from public health experts and officials.

But national attention does not always translate into political gain at home and could potentially seed new complications for DeSantis by the time Floridians go to the polls next year to cast their verdict on his first term. For now, the Delta variant's surge in Florida is a wild card for the governor, who has refused to ramp up mitigation efforts even as the pandemic threatens the state's tourism industry and -- with schools opening -- the safety of young students, their families, educators and other staff inside the buildings.

... DeSantis is keen to play to friendly crowds and he appears mindful of where he picks his highest profile fights. His recent mask clashes have mostly centered in counties and school districts where, politically, he has the least to lose -- Democratic strongholds that rejected him during his run for governor in 2018.

... Public health experts, including at the CDC, strongly encourage mask-wearing as a useful tool against the spread of Covid-19.

"Community mask wearing substantially reduces transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus in 2 ways. First, masks prevent infected persons from exposing others to SARS-CoV-2 by blocking exhalation of virus-containing droplets into the air," according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Second, masks protect uninfected wearers. Masks form a barrier to large respiratory droplets that could land on exposed mucous membranes of the eye, nose, and mouth."

... Democratic candidates and Democratic-aligned groups are ringing alarm bells over the situation in Florida and pinning the bulk of the blame for the state's dire circumstances -- with more than 20,000 new Covid-19 cases being reported daily -- on refusals by the governor and GOP lawmakers to allow proven mitigation measures even as cases climb among children.

According to statistics from the Florida Department of Health, there were 16,764 new cases among those under 12 years old (a cohort not yet eligible to be vaccinated) from August 6-12. That represented a positivity rate of 22.1%, slightly higher than the state average. Floridians ages 12 to 19 years old accounted for nearly 15,000 new cases that week. Their positivity rate also exceeded the state number, at 24.3% to 19.3% overall.

Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor running to win back his old job, responded to the state board's decision, describing the standoff as a clash between courageous local officials, some of whom have been threatened with firings, and a power-hungry DeSantis.

"He is overstepping the boundaries of his office to enforce his deadly political agenda on our lives, leaving our school boards and superintendents to bravely do what's right and stand up against him," Crist said in a statement. "Governor DeSantis lacks the compassion and common sense to get us out of this pandemic. I continue to stand with teachers, parents, and school boards doing what's right for our students. We need a leader, not a dictator."

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida and another potential DeSantis challenger next year, has also sharpened her attacks on the governor as she touts a federal lawsuit arguing, in part, that bans on mask mandates are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"These unconstitutional threats from DeSantis and (Florida Education Commissioner Richard) Corcoran aren't about individual rights or freedom," Fried said on Wednesday. "They're about pandering to the most extreme voices in order to score political points at the expense of your kids, your family."


But even as the Delta-powered Covid-19 surge shows few signs of abating as the school year swings into gear, DeSantis is, much in the vein of former President Donald Trump, only becoming more strident -- and undermining of real-world data and science that proves the utility of masks.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/20/politics/ron-desantis-masks-florida-schools-covid-19/index.html