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Gov. DeSantis of Florida to Let Parents Opt of School Masking

Gov. DeSantis of Florida to Let Parents Opt of School Masking
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Gov. DeSantis of Florida to Let Parents Opt of School Masking

Gov. DeSantis of Florida to Let Parents Opt of School Masking

Defying the new federal mask recommendations, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Friday that he would sign an executive order giving parents the power to decide for themselves whether their children wear masks to school this fall.

Mr DeSantis, a Republican who has made freedom from Covid-19 restrictions a signature of his administration, said he plans to sign the ordinance “protecting parents’ rights” amid a nationwide movement that is escalating to control the pandemic, as a highly contagious disease. Delta variant of virus tears unvaccinated population apart

“In Florida there will be no closures,” DeSantis said to cheers at a restaurant in Cape Coral, Florida. “There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions and no mandate.

Mr DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for a copy of the order on Friday, and the scope of the order – which Mr DeSantis said he plans to sign “very soon” – n was unclear.

The announcement came after Broward County, Florida’s second-largest school district, voted this week to require masks in schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended that all students, teachers, and staff wear masks, regardless of their immunization status.

The coronavirus resurgence has taken its toll on hospitals across the country again, with a scramble of patients fueled by the virulent Delta variant of the virus catching doctors by surprise. Florida reported the nation’s highest daily average hospitalizations, 36 per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, according to data compiled by The New York Times. In Jacksonville, hospitals have more Covid patients than ever, despite the availability of vaccines.

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And on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully immune people who are infected with the Delta variant can pass the virus to others as easily as unvaccinated people. Vaccines remain powerfully effective against serious illness and death, and infections in those vaccinated are considered relatively rare.

The masking problem is particularly acute in Florida, which is experiencing one of the fastest growing epidemics in the country and where many schools will start in a matter of weeks. Florida has never had a statewide mask mandate for the general public. Less than half of Florida’s population is fully vaccinated, and children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Citing research that found transmission of the virus in schools to be low last year, Mr DeSantis reiterated that the decision on masks should be in the hands of parents.

He said his order would not prevent children from being masked if their parents wanted, without acknowledging that universal masking – not just of those who choose to wear masks – plays a role in interrupting transmission .

“We really need to make sure that parents’ rights are protected,” he said.

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