TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Florida, is accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis of risking Floridians’ health following DeSantis’ executive order last week to ban mask mandates in schools.
“Governor DeSantis continues to play Russian Roulette with the pandemic, risking the publics’ health, our economy, and our jobs,” Crist said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “He should be laser focused on stamping out the virus, not auditioning for the Republican presidential nomination.”
DeSantis’ order allows the state to withhold funds from schools that enact mask mandates to slow the spread of COVID-19. At the time, Broward County’s school board voted to require masks following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to return to indoor masking regardless of vaccination status.
In his press conference last Friday, DeSantis said he wanted to let parents make the choice whether to have their children wear masks in schools, saying it was a protected right under the Parents Bill of Rights DeSantis signed in May.
“My wife and I are not going to do the masks with the kids; we never have,” DeSantis said. “I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun.”
Crist said DeSantis’ order shows that he is ignoring that masks have been effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, which is what allowed children to return to in-person learning.
“Now, with only a week until school starts back, Florida tragically leads the nation in children hospitalized due to the virus,”Crist said. “But instead of trying to stop the spread and protect our kids, who aren’t eligible yet for the vaccine, he wants to defund the school systems trying to keep them safe. It’s unconscionable.”
At a press conference Tuesday morning, DeSantis tried to downplay the record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations, saying the media was “fear-mongering”.
Crist wasn’t the only one to speak against DeSantis. President Joe Biden also criticized the policies of both DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
“I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents,” Biden said. “It is clear to me and to most medical experts the decisions being made like not allowing mask mandates in schools are bad health policy.