Saying that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning mask mandates in schools is “medically and scientifically baseless and inaccurate,” state Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, called on Florida’s top public health official to “set the record straight.”
In a letter Tuesday to state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, Farmer wrote that DeSantis’ executive order is “largely if not entirely predicated on an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of accepted scientific research, outdated information (some of which is attributed to you and your department), and the proliferation of myths.”
Farmer also said Rivkees is “morally and professionally obligated to issue clarifications” about an April 29 public health advisory and rebuke “misleading information” in DeSantis’ executive order.
Rivkees issued the April 29 health advisory, saying that COVID-19 vaccines were readily available and that “fully vaccinated individuals should no longer be advised to wear face coverings or avoid social and recreational gatherings except in limited circumstances.”
DeSantis’ executive order banning schools from requiring students to wear masks relied on Rivkees’ health advisory. But Farmer said in Tuesday’s letter that the health advisory only recommended that fully vaccinated people not be required to wear masks.
“It should be noted (and you should feel obligated to do so) that your advisory ONLY found it necessary to lift face covering advisories for fully vaccinated individuals, a group which currently does not include every … student under the age of 12,” Farmer wrote.
Additionally, Farmer said DeSantis’ executive order contended that “schools — including those that did not require students to be masked — did not drive community transmission of COVID-19.”
However, in a July 9 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that there was an increased likelihood of the transmission of COVID-19 in schools when community transmission is high, Farmer wrote.
Also, the CDC report found that “inconsistent mask use may have contributed to school-based outbreaks that have already occurred,” Farmer wrote.