TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Thursday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried presented finds from her team showing how masks affect COVID cases within schools.
According to Fried’s office, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services requested COVID-19 data from the Florida of Public Health that was never received, leading them to compile and analyze all publicly available COVID-19 data.
Fried's department looked at 33 school districts that published aggregated COVID-19 data.
She found Covid-19 cases per capita were 2.6 times lower in districts that started the school year with mask requirements than in districts with no requirement.
School districts without mask requirements had almost twice as many COVID-19 cases than school districts with a mask requirement.
All the data presented by her office is as follows:
- 2.6 times lower student COVID-19 cases per capita in school districts starting the school year with mask requirements (Alachua, Broward, Miami-Dade) than school districts without mask requirements
- School districts without mask requirements had nearly twice as many student COVID-19 cases as school districts requiring masks
- School districts without mask requirements, had nearly 3.5 times higher student COVID-19 peak cases per capita than school districts requiring masks
- The smallest school districts, without mask requirements, had four times higher student COVID-19 peak cases per capita than in the largest school districts where masks were required
- Maskless Highlands County’s peak cases per capita (12) were 600 times higher than in masked Miami-Dade and Broward counties (0.02)
- 0.69 peak cases per capita in school districts requiring masks; 0.98 peak cases per capita in school districts with mask parental opt-outs; 2.31 peak cases per capita in school districts with no mask requirements
- Five largest school districts had average 0.48 peak cases per capita, while five smallest school districts had 1.82 peak cases per capita
“For months, Governor DeSantis has worked to undermine masks in the fight against COVID-19, releasing misinformation about so-called ‘forced masking’ at every turn, despite nearly all experts agreeing that masks work. When brave local elected school leaders dared to defy the Governor and require masks in schools, his petty response has been to defund our school districts. Because his Administration has refused to provide the COVID-19 data I requested months ago, I have directed my staff to compile all publicly available COVID-19 school data. This data clearly shows the truth: the Governor is lying about masks in schools,” said Commissioner Fried.
“Every way you look at the data, kids were better off in schools requiring masks than those that did not. School districts that did nothing suffered four times higher COVID-19 cases than school districts that required masks, in direct contradiction to the Governor’s disinformation. I stand with students, parents, teachers, and President Biden in support of our school districts that have taken action to keep kids healthy, keep parents working, and keep communities safe.”
However, the office of Governor Ron DeSantis released a rebuttal, claiming Fried's data cites school dashboard numbers which are not verified and "render the results worthless.”