TALLAHASSEE – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pledged Thursday that there would be no mask warrant in schools or Covid-related lockdowns this fall, even as the virus grows in the state and across the country.
Florida saw its cases explode in July, mostly among the unvaccinated, and hospitals are grappling with a wave of new admissions that have forced some large hospitals in the state to lower visitation limits and cut back on elective surgeries. . More than 8,000 people in Florida have tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, and even the state attorney general announced this week that she had Covid despite being fully vaccinated.
Still, the Republican governor insisted that Florida would have a “normal school year” and that the state would resist any campaign or pressure from federal authorities to put in place mask warrants for schoolchildren. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommended earlier this week that all students two years of age or older and school staff wear masks.
“We’re not doing this in Florida. Okay? We need our children to breathe, ”DeSantis said at a press conference in Fort Pierce to recognize the signing of a bill creating a statewide book distribution program. “Is it really healthy for them to be muzzled and have their breathing blocked all day at school?” I don’t think it is.
DeSantis’ comments marked a further step in its confrontational stance against federal health officials. The Republican governor, who is considering a 2024 presidential bid, has repeatedly touted his hands-off approach to Covid-19 which flies in the face of some of the recommendations from health officials but resulted in businesses remaining open and that the State maintained its mortality rate among its seniors, especially in retirement homes. More than 38,000 Floridians have died since the start of the pandemic.
The recent increase in coronavirus cases, however, has caused great concern that the pandemic is far from over and that more needs to be done to convince unvaccinated people to protect themselves. And even those who are vaccinated have tested positive for Covid-19, including Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who recently traveled with DeSantis to Texas, and Representative Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Who announced more early this week he has the virus.
DeSantis on Thursday was so adamant that students should not be forced to wear masks that he said he had previously spoken to Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls about holding a special legislative session to counter any potential mandate imposed by federal authorities.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about DeSantis’ comments on the mask warrants on Thursday, replied: “If I were a parent in Florida, that would be of great concern to me.”
As DeSantis battled the imposition of Covid-related restrictions in the state, the governor earlier this year continued an aggressive vaccination campaign that specifically targeted older Floridians and included the creation of pop-up clinics to distribute doses. It seemed to work, as the state saw its new cases and the number of deaths drop.
But Florida has seen the number of vaccinations drop steadily in recent weeks. At the end of May, the state said it was distributing more than 400,000 doses of the vaccine per week. It has now fallen to just over 224,000, according to the weekly report released last Friday by the Florida Department of Health.
About 48% of Florida’s population is fully vaccinated, putting the state at 26e nationwide among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 58 percent of all adults in Florida are fully immunized.
Florida imposed a few lockdowns at the start of the pandemic, but quickly lifted them last summer and DeSantis pledged to never put them back. Florida never demanded a statewide mask warrant and instead left it to local cities and counties. But the Florida legislature this spring passed a bill that gives the governor veto power over local governments that impose restrictions related to public health emergencies, meaning any new restrictions put in place by cities and towns and cities. the counties could be quickly canceled.
Even though Covid-19 infections have recently skyrocketed, DeSantis said earlier this week he was not worried about the ‘number of cases’ and urged people to get vaccinated as it would prevent disease serious or death.
But a group of Florida doctors on Thursday called on DeSantis to stop his “victory lap” over his handling of Covid and end his attacks on Dr Anthony Fauci, one of President Joe Biden’s top medical advisers.
“If DeSantis were as concerned with stopping the spread of Covid-19 as with offering these smart shots to Dr Fauci, we might not be in this position,” said Dr Bernard Ashby, Miami-based vascular cardiologist and in the state of Florida. Head of the Committee for the Protection of Health Care. “The doctors here feel like we’re back to square one.”
Dr Frederick Southwick, an infectious disease expert in Gainesville who said he spent 10 days administering thousands of vaccines earlier this year, added “It is high time for him to give up his act that Florida won. the pandemic “.