Screenshot via Nikki Fried/Twitter
Florida Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Fried said that Governor Ron DeSantis is 'lying' about the efficacy of mask mandates in Florida public schools.
DeSantis barred Florida school districts from requiring mask mandates and has sought to punish noncompliant districts
by stripping them of funding. All the while, DeSantis has pushed a line that masking is an ineffective tool
to keep children safe from COVID-19. Fried compiled publicly available school district data for coronavirus cases and found that the school districts with mask requirements from day one had the lowest cases per-capita among students.
“Ron DeSantis is lying to you about masks in schools," she said in a video sharing her findings. "In every single case, kids were better off in school districts that required masks than school districts that did not.”
Fried noted that Miami-Dade, the largest school district in Florida and a proponent of masks from day one, had 600 times fewer cases per-capita than the worst of the districts. Fried reported that the three Florida districts that opened with mask mandates in place (Miami-Dade, Alachua and Broward) had 3.5 times fewer cases per capita than unmasked districts.
“This new data provides that this punishment [of school districts]
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,” Fried said.
Ron DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw reached out to Orlando Weekly with a response to Fried's claims.
"Commissioner Fried is again pandering to conspiracy theorists who believe, without evidence, that 'Florida is hiding its COVID-19 data.; In fact, all COVID-19 case data is collected and reported by the Florida Department of Health, which is not Fried’s agency," she said. "The school dashboard numbers aren’t verified. I understand she claims this is 'hidden' Florida data. That is not accurate; it is a misrepresentation of certain Florida data that she cherry picked."
School districts like Miami-Dade and (eventually) Orange County Public Schools have held firm in their mandates. The federal government has stepped in with funding for some districts who were punished by the state Department of Education.
“If the consequence is ultimately my job, my salary, I’m willing to accept that, but I’m not willing to bend on my conviction,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said earlier this year
, when questioned about his district's mandate.
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