South Florida newspaper slams Ron DeSantis for anti-mask order: 'Preventable illness and death’

South Florida newspaper slams Ron DeSantis for anti-mask order: 'Preventable illness and death’

On July 30, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order forbidding local school districts in the Sunshine State from having mask mandates. The South Florida Sun Sentinel's editorial board, in response, slams the far-right Republican governor in a scathing editorial published on August 2 — arguing that DeSantis would rather play politics than look out for the health of Floridians at a time when COVID-19 is raging in his state.

"Preventable illness and death are the potential consequences of DeSantis' latest executive order, effectively forbidding schools from requiring face masks even though there are still no approved COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12," the Sun Sentinel's editorial board explains. "The order appeared aimed squarely at Broward County. His order coincided with the startling news that Florida led the nation with 110,477 new COVID-19 cases last week, some 37,000 more than the week before. Broward and Miami-Dade hospitals last week admitted the most COVID patients of any counties in the U.S."

One in five new COVID-19 infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is in Florida.

"DeSantis says masking children is a decision for parents — not the government," the Sun Sentinel's editorial board notes. "That's an abdication of the state's responsibility to keep all children as safe as possible in the schools that the state compels them to attend until they are 16. 'Personal choice' does not do away with personal responsibility, and there's no such thing as absolute personal choice."

The Sun Sentinel editorial board continues, "For example, it's a personal choice to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. But driving drunk can cost you a great deal of money and put you in prison for up to 15 years if you kill somebody. Smoking is banned in workplaces, because your fumes can inflict cancer and heart disease on nonsmokers. Choosing to expose yourself to a deadly pandemic by refusing to be vaccinated, wear a mask or practice social distancing where necessary is a personal choice with public consequences. It scoffs at personal responsibility. People who don't vaccinate against COVID-19 risk not just their own lives, but the lives of others whom they could infect before they know they are infected."

DeSantis has been slammed by some far-right anti-vaxxers for encouraging Floridians to get vaccinated, including fellow Trumpista Michael Flynn (who briefly served as national security adviser in the Trump Administration). But the Sun Sentinel editorial board argues that DeSantis is undermining his own pro-vaccine statements.

"Although DeSantis advises the unvaccinated to get jabbed," the Sun Sentinel editorial board observes, "he muddled his message by signing a law, likely unconstitutional, that forbids governments, schools and businesses from requiring proof of vaccination. He hasn't gone so far as to bar local mask requirements, but he effectively nullified them by ruling out fines or other enforcement tools."

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