Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is using a viral video of him chiding masked students to solicit campaign contributions.
“The political science show cannot go on,” he tweeted today from his political account with a campaign-style video that criticizes Democrats who have been seen at recent public events without masks. “It’s curtain call for COVID theater.”
DeSantis, who has long been critical of mask-wearing and the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, told the students Wednesday at a cybersecurity announcement at the University of South Florida in Tampa that they did not need to wear masks. Several of the students removed them.
Florida last week issued guidance that advised against wearing face coverings in a community setting. In areas of low community transmission, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says masks can be worn based on “personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.”
“I told a group of students masks were ridiculous, and they didn’t have to wear them if they didn’t want to,” DeSantis said in a campaign email sent today that asked for contributions of $15. “Predictably, the leftist propagandists in our media had a meltdown and called me a ‘bully’ for allowing children to breathe fresh air.”
DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw pointed out that masks are optional at Florida universities.
“After 2 years of mixed messages and social engineering from health authorities and media, the governor wants to make sure everyone is aware of the facts and data now, so they can feel free and comfortable without a mask,” she said Wednesday in an emailed response to questions.
The wearing of masks and facial coverings emerged as one of the more politicized and controversial aspects of the pandemic, with officials first saying they had little impact outside of health-care settings before embracing and recommending them for the general public. Epidemiologists have credited them for reducing spread of the coronavirus, while opponents have questioned their effectiveness.