DeSantis Admin Pushes Back Against CNN Misinformation On School Masks

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been at the frontlines of protecting the rights of parents and allowing them to make the decisions for their children’s education and health. He even recommended the state’s education agency to start pushing local officials who ignore his executive orders prohibiting mask mandates. DeSantis and school board members have been at odds with one another over everything from masking to vaccine passports. Some have even gone so far as to push misinformation and manipulate the data just to make the DeSantis administration look bad.

DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw recently called out state Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried for going on CNN and trying to cite a survey that showed school districts with mask requirements having three times lower infection rates than those without. Fried went on to accuse Gov. DeSantis of “lying” and “manipulating” the data throughout the pandemic and has frequently ripped her GOP challenger.

DeSantis, on the other hand, has described Fried as a “lockdown lobbyist” and said she does nothing but “emote on social media” and “virtue signal to small-dollar donors” in California and New York. He said state businesses would’ve all shut down this year if Fried were governor, adding that she’s opposed their freedom at every turn.

“I’ve done more, I think, in my first week as governor than she has done in her entire time as agricultural commissioner,” DeSantis adds.

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Pushaw points out how CNN originally reached out to the wrong communications person regarding the “hidden data” and contacted someone who’d moved to a new agency five months ago. Pushaw notes that CNN wrote to their general media inbox expecting a response in less than an hour, adding that they’ve sent Kate Bolduan forward to correct the record.

Pushaw points out how the 3.5 fewer times case remark is the “same logically flawed conclusion” as the most recent Centers for Disease Control & Prevention study. She said it is not hidden Florida data and inaccurate to misrepresent Florida’s data by cherry-picking the same conclusions as to the AZ study. She even accused Commissioner Fried of “pandering to conspiracy theorists” by pushing the idea that Florida is hiding its COVID-19 data. Pushaw confirms that all data has been collected and reported by the Florida Department of Health.

“Fried is not an epidemiologist or scientist, nor does her department have any responsibility or special access to COVID-19 data. Conducting research on infectious diseases is not the competence of the agriculture commissioner or FDACS. It is surprising if a member of the press would take her at her word as though she is an infectious disease expert,” Pushaw writes.

Pushaw also notes that there is “no way of verifying” whether an infection was picked up in school or outside of school and that COVID-19 cases have decreased about 96% statewide since school started in Florida. They have also found no significant difference between the forced masking and mask optional districts on pediatric cases across counties. She went on to accuse Commissioner Fried and CNN of pushing disinformation about masking in Florida schools.

The 13 districts that broke DeSantis’s executive order to impose the forced-masking mandates have also seen an average decrease of 67% in cases, which shows that there has been no impact on pediatric COVID-19 prevalence. This doesn’t come as a surprise since there were no significant differences between forced-masking and mask-optional schools during the 2020-21 school year in Florida.

Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo also criticized Fried’s remarks, calling her conducted study “weak” and that her department doesn’t analyze any of the testing frequency, community spread, mitigation measures, and data collection. He said he doesn’t pander to politics and will always ensure that the Department of Health uses “valid data and credible, data-driven methods” to make their decisions.

DeSantis continues to defend his COVID-19 policies that are grounded in common sense and science. The state of Florida continues to see some of the lowest rates of COVID-19 infection rates and with hospitalization numbers continuing to work their way down. Democrats are losing on the case numbers so they have to start pushing the fear. But Florida always pushes back.