TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — No mandates, no masking and no COVID-19 restrictions. That is the message from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as other states bring back pandemic-era measures amid a rising number of infections and hospitalizations.
“We’ve ensured that this is a free state,” DeSantis, a 2024 Republican candidate for president, said in Jacksonville Thursday.
The governor reassured parents that no increase in COVID-19 transmission will lead to school closures nor will their children be required to mask up in the classroom.
“You as a parent can send your kid to school and the school can’t force them to wear a muzzle all day,” he said to cheers in the room. “They’re allowed to breathe.”
Two years ago, DeSantis signed legislation that prohibits COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the workplace.
“We’ve enacted permanent protections against these policies now and in the future for Floridians,” DeSantis said.
NBC News reports the FDA could approve an updated booster shot as early as Friday.
“I totally get being exhausted with the whole topic of COVID after the last three years of what we’ve been through,” said Dr. Juan Dumois, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
Dumois said people should discuss with their own doctors whether they would benefit from another booster shot.
“If last time you had COVID or vaccine was a year ago, you might be the kind of person who does benefit from the new vaccine to get a boost to your immunity,” he said.
As a statewide grand jury investigates any wrongdoing related to the already existing COVID-19 vaccines, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said Floridians should avoid getting the new one.
“There’s essentially no evidence for it,” Ladapo said during the governor’s news conference in Jacksonville. “There’s been no clinical trials done in human beings showing it benefits people. There’s been no trial showing that is a safe product for people.”
Last year, top doctors from the FDA and CDC pushed back against Ladapo’s recommendation against COVID-19 vaccines for health children, which contradicts guidance from federal public health officials.
“It is the job of public health officials around the country to protect the lives of the populations they serve, particularly the vulnerable. Fueling vaccine hesitancy undermines this effort,” said the letter signed by FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and former-CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.