Team DeSantis Responds to Kari Lake's Claim of 'Forced' Covid Vaccines and Masks

Team DeSantis Responds to Kari Lake's Claim of 'Forced' Covid Vaccines and Masks

Chris Nelson
Chris Nelson
September 26, 2023

Former candidate for Arizona Governor and Trump surrogate Kari Lake appeared on a podcast today claiming Florida Governor Ron DeSantis closed beaches and mandated masks and Covid vaccines.

"Let us not forget that DeSantis also shut the beaches down," said Lake, who lost her bid for Governor against Democrat Katie Hobbs in 2020. "DeSantis took a page out of Gavin Newsom's playbook. Despite what he says he shut the beaches down. He did force vaccines. He did force face masks on our kids."

"Kari Lake is mistaken," posted DeSantis spokesman Redfern. "It was Donald Trump that closed beaches, forced kids to wear masks and banned tag at recess, and was preparing for a military COVID vaccine mandate. Gov DeSantis fought the Trump-Fauci WH task force, banned vaccine passports, and forced schools to open."

Redfern posted a memorandum from the Department of Defense under the Trump Administration dated April 5, 2020 mandating every individual on DoD property wear masks.

"Effective immediately, to the extent practical, all individuals on DoD property installations and facilities will wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance.." according to the memo.

Redern also posted a memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense dated December 7, 2020 stating COVID-19 vaccines would be voluntary for military personnel "until any vaccine receives full FDA approval and licensure".

"[DeSantis] forced vaccines on people, on workers," claimed Lake. "He forced face masks on children. DeSantis was for all that. He thinks we forgot that as well."

This statement is provably false. DeSantis resisted a statewide mask mandate and never mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for anyone. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and even the Trump Administration pushed for DeSantis to sign a statewide mask mandate as Governor Newsom had, but DeSantis refused. Any mask mandate in the state of Florida was at the behest of a local government, school board or private institution.

"There is always a tweet," posted DeSantis Rapid Response Director Christina Pushaw, posting one of the many posts from Lake praising DeSantis in 2022. This one stating DeSantis had "set the standard for conservative leadership at the state level nationwide." Since DeSantis announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for President, Lake and other Trump surrogates have taken a starkly different tone toward the Florida governor.

Trump ally Congressman Carlos Gimenez shut down Miami Beaches as Mayor of Dade County and threatened to put people in prison for not wearing a mask. On September 25, 2020, DeSantis signed EO 20-244 suspending all fines from local governments related to COVID-19 offenses, effectively nullifying orders from Mayors like Gimenez.

"Floridians should not be prohibited by local governments from working or operating a business," according to DeSantis's order which effectively ended local government's ability to enforce mandates.

DeSantis pardoned Broward gym owners Mike and Jillian Carnevale after they were arrested three times for refusing to require masks at their gym.

“Floridians like Mike and Jillian Carnevale should have never faced criminal charges for not requiring masks in their businesses,” said DeSantis. “Today, we took action in Florida to reject the overreach of local authorities through unnecessary and unscientific mask mandates. No business should face economic ruin and be punished for alleged violations of local orders that are unreasonably restrictive of rights and liberties.”

DeSantis never mandated that children wear masks as Lake claims. Some districts chose to impose mask mandates for the 2020-21 school year, but DeSantis signed an Executive Order on July 30, 2021 ordering all school districts to make masks optional for all students. DeSantis fought to have schools reopened for the 2020-21 school year in spite of being sued by the largest teachers union in Florida to keep them closed. DeSantis won that battle.

"After seeing some of those rumblings that there be an attempt from the federal level to push for mandatory masking of school children. So our view is this should absolutely not be imposed. Should not be mandated," said DeSantis in July, 2021.

The Broward School District, among others, voted 8-1 to defy DeSantis's order and continue with mask mandates for students as the CDC had recommended.

“We believe that we have a constitutional obligation to protect the lives of our students and staff,” Broward School Board Chair Rosalind Osgood said on an August, 2021 episode of CBS's Face the Nation. “We’ve been working extremely hard to put these in place, and we’re not going to risk their lives by allowing it to be optional.”

In response, Florida’s Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced on Aug. 30 that the FDOE had withheld “the monthly school board member salaries” as directed by the State Board of Education. The State announced $700,000 in funding from Broward and Alachua had been withheld over the battle to keep children masked. After the Biden Administration announced they would use Federal Grants to fill in the funding gaps, DeSantis took it up a notch and docked the school boards' salaries and overall school funding in amounts equal to the federal grants, effectively canceling out the counties' federal aid.

On November 9, 2021, the Broward School Board cried mercy and ended the mask mandate, after which their funding was fully restored.

DeSantis signs four medical freedom laws on November 18, 2021 in Brandon, Florida

On November 18, 2021, following a special session of the State Legislature, DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo held a press conference in Brandon, Florida to announced the signing of four new laws effectively banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates and mask mandates in the State of Florida. These laws were made permanent in the 2022 General Session. DeSantis was joined by seven year-old Fiona LaShells who was suspended 36 times for refusing to wear a mask after DeSantis signed his order.

"I wasn't going to school because I was getting suspended for not wearing a mask," said LaShelles to cheers of "We love you!"

"I didn't like the mask because you have germs on your hands then you touch it, then you put it on your face and breathe in all those germs," said LaShells.

"She got things done," said DeSantis, praising LaShells for standing up.

DeSantis touted the new laws which gives Floridians recourse against employers attempting to impose COVID vaccine mandates.

“I told Floridians that we would protect their jobs and today we made that the law,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida. I’m thankful to the Florida Legislature for joining me in standing up for freedom.”

DeSantis promised earlier this month that COVID-19 mandates would never return to Florida.

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Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson is a videographer and investigative reporter based in Fort Lauderdale. Chris covers breaking news, and local and state politics, and focuses on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. His work has been cited on Fox News and Epoch Times.

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