Gov. Ron DeSantis loves to remind people that he bases his decisions on data and facts.
That is, except for those times when the data and facts are inconvenient for his narrative.
That’s me talking, by the way. DeSantis would never admit that he might be wrong about something.
Circumspect, he ain’t. Like Tom Petty, he won’t back down, even when pushing an absurd narrative that masks don’t protect much against COVID-19.
As the Orlando Sentinel reported, DeSantis told a crowd last week in Fort Pierce, “There’s not much science behind it.”
Except, well, there actually is much science behind it.
A whole bunch of science.
“To say that masks don’t work is disingenuous,” Dr. Danny Benjamin told the Sentinel. “Masks work. That has been established. Full stop.”
Benjamin is a professor of pediatrics at Duke University — translation, he knows more about this than DeSantis does. Benjamin helped lead a study of face masks and COVID-19. The team collected data — repeat Governor, data — from 100 school districts with about 1 million students and staff.
Their finding: mandating masks on campus “is the most effective mitigation strategy” to prevent COVID-19 spread in schools. Masks can help more than social distancing.
We know how DeSantis feels about that, though, don’t we? His facts are the only ones that matter, even when they’re wrong.
Here’s the problem with that, though.
DeSantis essentially declared victory over COVID-19, but the virus didn’t get the memo. The highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 has taken root in Florida. Hospitals report surges in infected patients, most of whom chose not to take the vaccine. That’s another story, sigh.
The Mayo Clinic showed data — there’s that word again — showing that on June 6, Florida had only three new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. That number is more than 100 now, with projections that it could rise to nearly 400 by early August.
Sound familiar? That’s how the original virus surge began last year.
Experts say kids under 12 are especially vulnerable because they can’t currently take the vaccine shots, so what to do? Schools will soon open all over the state.
Sean O’Leary, the vice-chair of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told The Washington Post something DeSantis doesn’t want to hear.
“Be thoughtful about what you’re doing, where you’re going, and outdoors is safer than in. In larger crowds, wear a mask,” he said. “And that applies to kids down to 2.”
By now, you know the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used — wait for it — data to revise its recommendation on mask-wearing. It now says anyone, vaccinated or not, should wear one indoors when in a crowd.
I groaned when I saw that, just like everyone else. But then, I dutifully put my mask collection in a convenient place and will wear the coverings accordingly. It’s the right thing to do.
Sure, it’s confounding when the experts tell you one thing only to change their minds. That’s the nature of this virus, though. It appeared suddenly, mutated a few times, and continues to defy skeptics and scientists alike.
This thing doesn’t operate on our schedule. The smart play is to protect yourself and your family.
However, the almighty Republican base doesn’t dine on anything but red meat. The Governor serves that up with as much gusto as a former President who shall not be named and damn the consequences.
However, he might get more of the latter than he bargained for.
On Monday, POLITICO reported DeSantis held a private roundtable meeting to, well, we’re not sure what. Poo-poo mandatory masks, I guess.
According to a transcript later released, one of the participants likened mandatory masks in schools to “child abuse.”
How stupid. That person deserves mockery. It’s all about talking points and looming elections, though — like this one from the Governor.
DeSantis earlier said he opposed mandatory masks in schools “because we need our kids to breathe.”
I’m sure that drew cheers.
However, you know, I think the data will show that it’s easier for kids to breathe when they don’t have COVID-19. The Governor should look that up.