Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has made his opposition to schools imposing mask mandates clear. In turn, Florida Democrats have criticized the Governor over his views, including Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D), who’s vying to unseat DeSantis in the upcoming midterm election, and is urging school districts to implement a mask mandate. Commissioner Fried warned Floridians that “Ron DeSantis is lying to you about masks in schools."
However, Commissioner Fried is arguing that Governor DeSantis is misdirecting Floridians, but here recent school mask data announcement was completely flawed.
“Ron DeSantis is lying to you about masks in schools… in every single case, kids were better off in school districts that required masks than school districts that did not.”
The progressive Florida Phoenix caught the “significant error” that Fried’s office had listed from a smaller school district, labelelin it as a rural district on Florida’s Gulf Coast when it wasn't
As evidence, Fried is citing that Alachua, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties have required masks from the first day of school, and she argues this has resulted in more than 3.5 times fewer COVID-19 cases per student as opposed to schools that did not require masks.
Alachua is a large school district on the east coast of Florida, not the west coast.
In response to Fried’s comments, Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ Press Secretary, slammed Fried, expressing that “conducting research on infectious diseases is not the competence of the Agriculture Commissioner or FDACS” and that “it is surprising if any member of the press would take her at her word as though she is an infectious disease expert.”
“Commissioner Fried is again pandering to conspiracy theories who believe, without evidence, that ‘Florida is hiding the COVID-19 data,’” Pushaw concluded.
Fried's Spokesman Frank Ripple responded to Pushaw about the release of their flawed COVID numbers:
"As are you, Christina. Many want leadership that understands kids do get sick from this virus. In the absence of that, @NikkiFriedFL as a Cabinet member and constitutional officer is going to give people public information that your boss won’t. Nothing campaign-related about it."
Fried's office (Ripple) had to go back and send out another press release to address the statistical error they made.
DeSantis has threatened schools with withholding funds should they implement a mask mandate on students. This resulted in Circuit Court Judge John C. Cooper ruling in favor of mask mandates, arguing that “it’s undisputed that in Florida we are in the midst of a pandemic” and that the mandate would remain in place.
“This new data provides that this punishment is purely political, intended to intimidate, designed to prop up Governor DeSantis’ future presidential campaign and in no way is based on science of the masks in the classroom,” commented Fried, arguing that DeSantis should “leave this alone and let our local school boards do the job that they were elected to do.”