Nikki Fried: Ron DeSantis ‘lying’ about school mask data
Nikki Fried. Image via Colin Hackley.

Punishing school districts requiring masks is 'purely political,' she said.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is imploring school districts to require masks for students after revealing data showing more COVID-19 cases in districts that don’t require masks.

The Democratic Commissioner, a gubernatorial candidate hoping to deny Gov. Ron DeSantis a second term, released the data compiled from school districts Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon, the Board of Education considered whether 11 districts violated state Health Department emergency rules when they implemented masking requirements.

DeSantis and his administration have argued that mask mandates haven’t reduced the spread of COVID-19.

“Ron DeSantis is lying to you about masks in schools … In every single case, kids were better off in school districts that required masks than school districts that did not,” Fried said.

The three school districts that required masks from the first day of school — Alachua, Broward and Miami-Dade counties — have more than 3.5 times fewer COVID-19 cases per student than school districts that never required masks. School districts with increasingly strict masking rules, from no rules and parental opt-outs to medical opt-outs and complete masking, also saw fewer cases per student.

Cases also spiked in almost every school district during the third or fourth weeks of school.

Despite that, the DeSantis’ administration has withheld funds from school districts to target school board members that mandated masks without allowing parents to opt their children out of those requirements. Enforcing the Health Department’s emergency rules has already led to a showdown with President Joe Biden’s administration over Alachua and Broward county schools’ requirements.

“This new data provides that this punishment is purely political, intended to intimidate, designed to prop up Governor DeSantis’ future presidential campaign and in no way is based on science of the masks in the classroom,” Fried said.

The data, compiled by Fried’s office in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, does not account for county vaccination rates. The latest COVID-19 surge, driven by the rise of the delta variant this summer, disproportionately hit unvaccinated communities. School districts without mask mandates resided in counties that also had lower vaccination rates.

The data also doesn’t account for community spread or prior infections.

Fried’s calculations comes from 33 of Florida’s 67 counties that publish weekly COVID-19 data for schools. Fried’s office merged it with student enrollment.

Fewer children are in quarantine and fewer teachers and staff are sick because of masking requirements, Fried argued, referring to the data as “indisputable evidence.”

“You need to leave this alone and let our local school boards do the job that they were elected to do,” she said.

When asked about the data Fried compiled, DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw pointed to the roughly proportional decline in case counts among the school-age population in districts with mask mandates compared to those without in September. Positivity rates similarly declined, which she said refuted the claims that mask mandates have a positive impact.

Fried is not an epidemiologist or a scientist, she added in a statement posted on Twitter after the Commissioner appeared on CNN.

“Conducting research on infectious diseases is not the competence of the Agriculture Commissioner or FDACS,” Pushaw said. “It is surprising if any member of the press would take her at her word as though she is an infectious disease expert.”

Furthermore, she disputed claims that the Health Department’s data is hidden, adding that Fried “cherry picked” data.

“Commissioner Fried is again pandering to conspiracy theories who believe, without evidence, that ‘Florida is hiding the COVID-19 data,'” Pushaw said.

Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo also criticized Fried, questioning who conducted the “study” and calling the methods weak. Her department’s analysis doesn’t account for testing frequency, community spread, mitigation measures and data collection.

“”Instead of pandering to political narratives, I’ll always ensure (the Department of Health) continues using valid data & credible, data-driven methods to make our decisions,” Ladapo tweeted.

“The U.S. Department of Education granted Alachua County Public Schools $148,000 on Sept. 23 and Broward County Public Schools $420,957 last week through Project SAFE, a federal program created to protect schools flouting state mask mandate bans. However, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced Monday the state would also dock the equivalent of the federal aid from school district budgets.

The state rules require school districts to allow parents to opt out of any school district student masking rules. Also, state rules allow parents to decide whether their children who have been exposed to the virus will quarantine and stay home from school.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • TJC

    October 7, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Trump taught DeSantis a simple truth: the people who vote for us love our lies. You must lie to them, tell them what they want to hear, and they will follow you, vote for you. Tell them not to worry about a pandemic, not to worry about their children, not to listen to scientists because scientists are all liberal stooges. Do this, DeSantis, in Trump’s name. And they will follow you to the end of their lives sucking for air in the hospital.

    • Impeach Biden

      October 7, 2021 at 10:29 am

      Your party says the Southern border is secure. 70% of Americans polled agree that it is out of control down there.

      • Alex

        October 7, 2021 at 11:35 am

        Why aren’t you down there working on that wall Mexico still hasn’t paid for?

        It’s not going to build itself.

        • Impeach Biden

          October 7, 2021 at 12:14 pm

          Funny. You told me a few days ago that this was not a hot button issue. You said to contact my congressperson, which I have several times before your suggestion and she is a do nothing like Kamala. There have been at least 400,000 known got aways that we know of at the Southern Border. 60,000 are on there way now. Captures from over 150 countries around the world. So here is the question. Are we a sovereign nation or not? Do you think we can feed, clothe, house, educate, and provide medical for the world’s population? At some point Western Europe had enough with the illegals from the Middle East and Africa. Keep it up clueless Joe Biden. The landslide in 2022 will be quite satisfying.

    • Alex

      October 7, 2021 at 11:38 am

      Spot on.

      The GQP is built on lies, conspiracy theories, racism, and willful ignorance.

      • Impeach Biden

        October 7, 2021 at 12:16 pm

        Once again the old Democratic talking point. Republicans and white people are racist. Thousands of people of color are coming and they don’t believe your BS as well. If America was racist why do they come?

        • Alex

          October 7, 2021 at 1:09 pm

          They don’t care what you believe, just like us.

          You’re a bunch of dinosaurs.

          • Impeach Biden

            October 7, 2021 at 1:22 pm

            Alex I encourage you to make a proposal to your city council or Mayor that your community build a tent city and house some of these illegals. Let’s see if the council, which probably has people of color, Caribbean folks, and eve; whites support your idea . If not you can call them racists as well. You and I know how that will go over.

          • Impeach Biden

            October 7, 2021 at 1:27 pm

            Do you own property or does momma still make you meatloaf and call you to dinner everyday?

        • Alex

          October 7, 2021 at 1:41 pm

          So you believe lies, and have nothing but BS, again.

          Oh, did you ever learn what a high crime is?

          You need one of those to “impeach biden”


      • Paulie

        October 7, 2021 at 12:35 pm

        That’s rich considering the Democratic party is the party of slavery, the KKK and civil rights opposition. Not to mention Joe Biden’s long history of racism. They are also arguably the most corrupt political party on the planet. Luckily for them, they have the MSM as lapdogs to run cover for them. The dolts that are too stupid to question the obvious just follow along.

        • Tom Palmer

          October 7, 2021 at 12:54 pm

          All those Democratic civil rights opponents et al became Republicans via Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Speaking of corruption, Spiro Agenew, Nixon’s vice president, resigned from office after his years of kickbacks finally caught up with him

        • Jimmy

          October 13, 2021 at 12:19 am

          Funny to see you use the same exact language and acronyms used by the very media you rail against. Fat bastard from the Austin Powers film said it best after he passed gas much in the same way you expel these comments. Everyone like their own brand

        • tjb

          October 13, 2021 at 9:33 am

          Paulie, your comment is a very naive attempt to discredit the Democratic party. At one time many southern state Democrats moved to the Republican party. These converted Republicans were the racist that supported slavery and the KKK. Perhaps this is the reason why many folks are against CRT … they will realize that their ancestors were bigots … and as the cliche goes … the apple doesnt falll too far from the tree.

  • Impeach Biden

    October 7, 2021 at 10:27 am

    Nikki, you stand no chance at all. Switch hitter Crist will be the nominee. Go tend to the marijuana plant’s.

    • Alex

      October 7, 2021 at 11:40 am

      DeAnus is doing a wonderful job of destroying himself, just like Trump did.

  • Paulie

    October 7, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Masks don’t work and anyone with half a brain understands this. It’s fear mongering and virtue signaling at it’s finest. Fried is a commie pushing the commie agenda. DeSantis has more smarts than the entire Democratic party combined. They have been diminished to little more than a group of feckless, authoritarian goons. Keep up the great work Guvna!

    • Alex

      October 7, 2021 at 12:58 pm

      More lies.


  • Glenn Hefley

    October 7, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says that Ron DeSantis is lying to you about masking.

    Oh, Nikki, that is so precious. But you need to do way more than that — We know that he’s lying. About the Masks? Oh, yes. Definitely. If fact you can say, “Ron DeSantis is lying about __________. And that wouldn’t be news either. He’s lying about entire countries now. Countries who were our allies until he woke up this morning.

    So, take off the gloves Nikki, and whack him with a salmon. We got your back.

    • Impeach Biden

      October 7, 2021 at 12:36 pm

      How about wacking him with a “Pot Plant”. That’s her future. Sitting on the sidelines while DeSantis is re-elected and typing away on her Twitter Account.

      • Alex

        October 7, 2021 at 12:57 pm

        If you had a point instead of babbling people might think you’re worth a reply.


        • Impeach Biden

          October 7, 2021 at 1:17 pm

          Whack him with a salmon? That’s not babbling?

        • Impeach Biden

          October 7, 2021 at 1:18 pm

          Nikki’s future is a pot plant harvester and social media influencer. She has no political future.

          • Alex

            October 7, 2021 at 1:44 pm

            The GOP is a dying bunch of angry old white racists.

            The future has no room for hate and ignorance.

            You’re a dinosaur.


  • Paulie

    October 7, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Fried is a low IQ, opportunistic charlatan. I relish the chance to see DeSantis eat her alive in debate. She’s gonna need more botox to withstand the intellectual beatdown he will deliver.

    • Alex

      October 7, 2021 at 12:58 pm

      No, that would be you, as I demonstrated above.

  • Claude Kirk

    October 7, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    Alex in an annoying troll PLEASE STOP FEEDING ALEX.
    Thank you.

    • Alex

      October 7, 2021 at 2:00 pm

      I like poking far right ignoramuses with a stick.

      It’s highly entertaining.



      • Impeach Biden

        October 7, 2021 at 2:16 pm

        Alex is a moron living at home with his mom typing away on the computer 24 /7. Polling suggests you are a dumbass voting for Dementia Joe and Giggles, I do Willies, Kamala Harris. Won’t be too long from now when no one will admit voting for those two clowns. Fuel prices at four year highs, inflation, and on and on.

          • Impeach Biden

            October 7, 2021 at 3:10 pm

            Not me dumbass. Keep googling

          • Impeach Biden

            October 7, 2021 at 5:49 pm

            What about all of your childish insults you make on a daily basis. I’m just coming down to your level of communication.

        • Alex

          October 7, 2021 at 3:16 pm

          Lying again.


  • #FJB

    October 7, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Fuck Joe Biden

    • Impeach Biden

      October 7, 2021 at 4:35 pm

      The SS Bitanic is sinking fast not even “I like Willie’s” can “BLOW” that ship upright.

  • Tom

    October 10, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    To even post anything that Nikki Fraud conveys is a joke. Fraud had no chance, crispy critters not much more. Sen Tarantula even less. Fraud is a stalker.

    Alzie Joe Is in the mid 20’s% on the abandonment of border and Afghanistan.
    He’s at 38% on approval with economy.
    184,000 Americans abandoned looking in the US job markets. Shameful.

    Biden Abandoned the border, abandoned Americans/allies in Afghanistan and Biden abandoned Americans looking for jobs.

    Alex is a socialist, he paddies to Cuba daily.

    Dummycrats have no chance.
    They just lie continually.
    Never held accountable by forgiving Media.

  • Rosemary Lepore

    October 11, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    Nikki fried is a liar
    Her misinformation about mask in Florida is totally wrong
    Your political stunt has backfired

  • martin

    October 13, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Nikki and Charlie will both implode and disappear come election day.

Comments are closed.


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