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DeSantis opposes masks in schools as COVID cases rise

Florida's governor said he fears that the federal government might try to force mask mandates in schools.
Credit: AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures as he speaks, Monday, June 14, 2021, at the Shul of Bal Harbour, a Jewish community center in Surfside, Fla. DeSantis visited the South Florida temple to denounce anti-Semitism and stand with Israel, while signing a bill into law that would require public schools in his state to set aside moments of silence for children to meditate or pray. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is opposing mask mandates at public schools as his state leads the nation in new coronavirus cases.

DeSantis, whose re-election campaign is selling koozies quoting him saying, “How the hell am I going to drink a beer with a mask on?” held a closed-door meeting Monday with doctors to oppose mask mandates in public schools.

DeSantis said he fears that the federal government might try to force mask mandates in schools, saying children would suffer. 

RELATED: Who needs to mask up in Florida? Pretty much everyone, per CDC guidance

Citing new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. But “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is "indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said.

DeSantis acknowledged during the meeting that YouTube removed video of a similar roundtable discussion he held earlier this year because panelists said there was no scientific justification to masking children in schools.

RELATED: DeSantis lashes out at YouTube for removing COVID panel discussion; Democrats blast 'waste of time'

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