On same day as new record for COVID-19 cases, Sen. Rick Scott tells Fox News that Florida doesn’t need a statewide mask order


  • Screenshot via Fox News

Florida Sen. Rick Scott defended Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision not to impose further sweeping shutdowns in Florida as the state’s case count continues to surge.

Scott appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday, supporting the governor’s Tuesday announcement that Florida is “not going back” on its reopening and to call on local, state and federal governments not to issue further shutdowns.

“I think we ought to stop mandating things and start just giving people good information,” Scott said. The former Florida governor added, “That’s what I did when I had hurricanes. People are smart. Give them good information. Tell them where there’s the spread of the virus—places that are at risk. If you tell me a restaurant has had patients or employees with coronavirus, I’d probably avoid it for a while.”

“So, give us information,” he said. “You don’t have to tell me to wear a mask. You don’t have to tell me to shut things down. Give me more information.”

But businesses technically do not have to disclose any coronavirus or COVID-19 exposure.

"When it comes to whether to publicly disclose the information, the biggest factor is whether the employee was customer facing, like a hostess or server, or if they largely spent their time behind the scenes," Tampa attorney Robert Shimberg recently told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. "Our advice to businesses is if there’s a customer-facing employee or the employee would be in the same restroom as the public, or otherwise in contact with the public, you would notify the public."

Along with the interview Thursday, Fox also published an op-ed from Scott advising against any government-mandated lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. He instead insisted government officials “trust the American people and value their right to make their own decisions and be responsible for their own outcomes.”

“People ignoring these warnings are being selfish – they’re not only putting their own health at risk, but also the health and well-being of their families, friends and coworkers,” his op-ed reads.

Gov. DeSantis’s announcement Tuesday was met with opposition from Florida Democrats who expressed concerns that a push for wearing masks in public was being seen as a matter of politics rather than public safety.

"We're not going back, closing things," DeSantis said. "I don't think that that really is what's driving it, people going to a business is not what's driving it. I think when you see the younger folks, I think a lot of it is more just social interactions, so that's natural. Obviously, you had a lot of different activities going on in different parts of the state. So that's just the reality."

The same day Sen. Scott announced his support for keeping the state open, Florida reported more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases, surpassing the previous daily record of 9,585 last Saturday, June 27.

This story originally appeared in our sister paper Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.


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