Public health officials on Sunday slammed Florida’s ban on mask mandate as the state recorded a record high in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant.
Since the pandemic, Florida logged the highest single-day total of 21, 683 new cases on Saturday. This came following the issuance by Ron DeSantis of an executive order banning school districts from mandating its staff and learners to mask up.
The state also set a new record on hospitalizations on Sunday, breaking the record it made more than a year ago.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins, in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union, said he was confused by the banning of mask mandates in school. This prohibition is among DeSantis’ dominating actions, which also included outlawing vaccine passports.
“I don’t understand the ban. Certainly this seems like something local officials ought to be able to decide based on their community’s circumstance,” the NIH director said.
“We do know that [children] are capable of getting pretty sick, we’ve lost about 400 children who have died from Covid-19 since this all started, and kids can also get long Covid where they ended up months later with difficulties with brain fog, and fatigue that interferes with their school performance.”
“So this is not to be just dismissed as a zero risk. Kids also live in homes, are related to people in those homes, who are perhaps immunosuppressed. They could bring home the virus and cause bad outcomes.”
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday also tackled the issue with the picture of DeSantis as a known ally of former President Donald Trump and 2024 potential presidential nominee.
“The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” DeSantis exclaimed on Friday.
In CBS’s Face the Nation, Fauci said that masking up to fight COVID was a“responsibility to society”. According to him, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics data-backed masks in educational institutions.
“You understand people feeling that they have the individual right to make their own decisions, and I respect that for sure, but the issue is, if you’re going to be part of the transmission chain to someone else, then your decision is impacting someone else,” Fauci said.
“It’s not only impacting you, and you’ve got to think about it that you are a member of society and you have a responsibility.”
The CDC was prompted to recommend wearing masks indoors as it was found that vaccinated people can still infect unvaccinated people with the virus.
“If you get breakthrough infections in individuals who are vaccinated and they don’t spread at all to anybody else you would not worry,” Fauci said, as reported by The Guardian. “If they went home to a vulnerable person in the household, children or an elderly person, there wouldn’t be any issue.”
“But we know now they can transmit when they get breakthrough infections, even though they have minimal symptoms or no symptoms. We know they can do it. We know the mechanistic reason for it is that the level of viruses is high, so you want to make sure they don’t get infected. That’s the fundamental basis for the CDC modifying their guidelines.”