Nikki Fried Defends Mask Mandates for Schools, Says DeSantis Is ‘Lying’


Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is “lying” about mask mandates in Florida’s schools and claims masks have been effective in stopping the spread of COVID.

“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,” Fried said.

In a Twitter thread, Fried made multiple claims about COVID-positive cases per capita across Florida’s fully-masked, and mask-optional school districts.

“School districts requiring masks resulted in up to seven times lower COVID-19 cases per capita than school districts that did not require masks,” Fried said. “Three times lower student COVID-19 cases per capita in school districts starting the school year with mask requirements (Alachua, Broward, Miami-Dade) than school districts without mask requirements.”

The data Fried is using is a sharable, view-only OneDrive Excel document containing week-by-week COVID data for each county’s school district. The data is not formatted as an official Florida Department of Agriculture report or from the Florida Department of Health. The document links to the individual county’s COVID school data dashboard.

In the document, the county school districts are categorized by their current status of mask usage including “med only opt-out,” “parental opt-out,” and “no mask requirement.” Of Florida’s 67 counties listed across the three categorizations, 35 counties had “insufficient/unavailable week-by-week dashboard data.”

Over half of Florida’s counties were not in the data Fried used to back her multiple claims.

Fried continued her comments by saying DeSantis’ financial punishment towards school districts imposing mask mandates is “purely political.”

Despite the claims that masks work, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study as recently as May 2021 indicating mask mandates did not limit the transmission of COVID. The CDC initially said they predicted masks would, in fact, prove to show lower case growth, but found the opposite.

“Mask mandates and use are not associated with slower state-level COVID-19 spread during COVID-19 growth surges,” the study said.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips. 




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