Joe Henderson: Data proves that masks help protect against COVID-19
Image via AP.

DeSantis 7.12.21
Gov. Ron DeSantis says he bases his opposition to mandatory masks in schools on science, but the numbers don't back him up.

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.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • father lowell laurence

    July 28, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    In Manhattan Playwright Dr. Larry Myers’ new work


    about Covid, vaccination , our zeitgeist

    will be presented by Playwrights Sanctuary ———-masked gloved six feet apart in a safe found theater space

    it previewed in San Francisco at Castro’s Backyard Theater

  • Charles

    July 28, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    Henderson with download of more disingenuous yellow journalism. Of course we have and encourage all adults to have the vaccine shot, but if it’s “Henderson News” I dismiss immediately as unsubstantiated liberal lies. Give him accolades– Henderson reins as the jackassery king

    • Joe Henderson

      July 28, 2021 at 7:55 pm

      And yet, Russian bot, you respond to everything I write.

      • zhombre

        July 28, 2021 at 8:21 pm

        So, your critics are Russian bots? Like those sneaky Russians who faked Hunter’s laptop?

  • Ron Ogden

    July 28, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    Science can’t make up its mind from one day to the next. You want to wear a mask, Joe, go ahead. You want me to wear one, convince me. You to force me to wear one, blow it our your left nostril.

  • Tom Palmer

    July 28, 2021 at 8:57 pm

    Seems DeSantis gets his medical advice from Tucker Carlson rather than the CDC. That makes we want to mask up even more. If others don’t want to mask. Fine. Don’t expect flowers at your funeral.

    • zhombre

      July 28, 2021 at 9:31 pm

      That’s a bullshit statement but it is your right to spout bullshit and calumny. DeSantis studied the scientific literature available at the time and that is why he prioritized the most vulnerable — the aged, nursing home residents — when vaccination commenced. His record there far exceeds that of Govs Widmer in MI and Cuomo in NYC. I assume you are vaccinated (as I am with the J&J) but if you choose to wear a mask, go ahead. It’s your face.

  • Jmjusa

    July 28, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion…
    Should be the moniker in most, if not all of Florida (Biased & B*llsh*t) Politics postings..

    Poor thing actually thinks that an opinion piece is actually news.
    Demon-rat hack that zer is/has been…

    • zhombre

      July 29, 2021 at 7:14 am

      It’s easy to tell. Even the articles not filed speciifically under the opinion section are opinion pieces.

      • tjb

        July 29, 2021 at 9:06 am

        Your comment reminds me of the defense that the Fox Attys often use when Tucker or Sean are being sued for libel. Their defense is if you believe what they are presenting are facts, you are naive (another word for ignorant ). Tucker and Sean are only presenting opinions.

        • zhombre

          July 29, 2021 at 10:20 am

          Same is true for Rachel Maddow or Chris Cuomo. Probably even nore true. Tucker Carlson often interviews people with knowledgeable, informed opinions but you never watch his show, I’m sure, so you wouldh’t know and, frankly, I give a shit what you think anyway.

          • Tjb

            July 29, 2021 at 11:02 am

            Again, as the Fox Attys have often stated, many Fox viewers are naive. Here is a fun fact; zhombre are braindead drunks by definition . Or are you a Nazi Zombie, zhombre ? I would love to know what you think. Oops, you can’t think, you are braindead … Unless you are a Nazi Zombie.

  • Ocean Joe

    July 29, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Great job Joe. Keep up the good work. The good work is a free press in action. The stormtroopers don’t like it. It’s got to be a hoax or fake news if they don’t agree with it. I look forward to your articles as well as the attacking comments.
    America’s governor seems to think America is about selfishness, and he may be right. Sharing or caring about others health is smeared as socialism. Working together for the benefit of all of us is out of the question.
    The bloated one raised division in this country to stratospheric levels. He punched holes below the waterline of our democracy with his attack on the credibility of our elections. Desantis has taken this blueprint of division and merged it with an actual brain.
    Politicizing a pandemic sums up the mess we are in.
    “You can’t tell me what to do!” Sums up the selfishness.

  • tjb

    July 29, 2021 at 8:26 am

    Hats off to DeSantis.
    DeSantis is a winner. Florida is now leading the nation in new Covid 19 cases. Nice to be number 1.
    We also beat Michigan in Covid deaths, 39,000 to 21,000. Way to go, Ronnie, we destroyed Michigan.Now let see if we can beat NY in Covid deaths. I know you can make it happen Ron DeSantis.

    GO. GO, Go, Ron! Mask off Ron.

  • Tracey A

    July 29, 2021 at 10:49 am

    The comments only confirm what Florida’s biggest problem is: You can’t fix stupid.

  • Tom

    July 29, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Tjb & seaweed joe are despicable.
    They join Palmer a classic elite.
    Soros Manchurians are the Dems.
    Liberal scream on every topic.
    The Dems accomplish nothing.
    They have given us almost 2 million illegals.
    Covid related but who cares.
    The two other hacks are Phil and Hoffman.
    They’ve recruited another Manchurian in Frankie. Apparently, America’s Governor is the fault for all ills in the world. You fools, the freedom you derive is from Gov DeSantis. He protests even you. Your Dums are against everything he allows you to do. Pathetic

    • tjb

      July 29, 2021 at 12:33 pm

      Gee, I thought DeSantis as Florida’s Governor. When did he get elected as America’s Governor? Looks like possible voters fraud does exist. However, I do agree with your earlier assessment that DeSantis is a whiz kid … he urinates on the citizens of Florida that do not support him or his views

  • Tom

    July 29, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    Tjb, you and your partisan hacks are in need of deep therapy. Your hate is blinding.
    No one has suggested vote fraud of any credible measure. You are a master of disinformation lies.

    We are talking about a 100 year pandemic.
    Again, Nikki Fraud stated she does not support lockdowns, so she she supports Gov Ron.
    Again, what would you and the other Dem hacks offer as alternatives. You have nothing.
    Gov Ron is America’s Governor. He’s lead by reading the science unlike Cuomo, Newsom and Whitmer. He’s a great Governor and has a bright future. He warned all who were listening that we would see a spike in late summer. Cause he reads the science. As for he being a “whiz” Kid, it stands without saying as grad of Yale & Harvard. He pity’s fools gladly. He will also take a whiz (your words) on all you Manchurians, it will be on the Re election night from Tallahassee. You are pathetic saboteur.

    • Tjb

      July 29, 2021 at 4:23 pm

      You feel better now Tom?

  • Tom

    July 29, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    It’s a 100 year pandemic and you and the hack partisans ridicule him as if you have answers.
    In which I see or read none at all from you, Phil, Palmer, “Hoffman” and few others.
    Spare us, you Dums don’t have a clue.
    Nothing personal pal but we are fed up with the whining. DeSantis is the real deal, Kahones and all.

  • Andrew Finn

    August 1, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    NEWS BULLETIN — This Just In — There will be no more deaths in the state of Florida from the Covid19 virus. Our Emperor DeSantis is going to issue another executive edict that forbids people to die from the virus. Simple. Problem solved. “We have ways of making you obey and live” !!!!!!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704