TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The office of Governor Ron DeSantis released a response disputing COVID-19 findings brought forward by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
According to office, the school dashboard numbers that Fried references are not verified and “render the results worthless.”
They claim there's no way to verify if a student was infected at school or somewhere else.
They added that Fried also didn't account for vaccination rates, previous infection rates or community infection rates.
The governor's office says Fried's method also puts disproportionate weight on smaller counties and that new pediatric infections and positivity rates have decreased by about the same rate in counties with mask requirements as without.
The exact data points released by the office, drawn from Florida Department of Public Health and Florida Department of Education data, are as as follows:
"DOH data on pediatric case rates in different counties shows no significant difference between forced masking and mask optional districts on pediatric cases across counties:
NEW PEDIATRIC CASES:
- New COVID-19 cases for children ages 5-17 – the vast majority of the school-aged population – have decreased 79% in the month of September, in the 54 Florida counties where school districts have no masking policy or are following state law by honoring the parental opt-out rule.
- For comparison, COVID-19 cases for children 5-17 in the in the 13 districts that imposed forced-masking in schools have decreased 77%, on average.
- The 54 districts with opt-outs or no mask policy have seen an average decrease of 65% in positivity from week ending Aug. 19 (when school started) to the week ending Sep. 30.
- The 13 districts that broke the law to impose forced-masking have seen an average decrease of 67%."
Fried argues that she believes DeSantis is releasing misinformation.