Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday he would sign an executive order to give parents the right to ignore any COVID-19 school mask mandates such as the one in Broward County.
DeSantis said the Parents Bill of Rights he signed into law last month gives him the authority to issue an emergency rule “protecting the rights of parents to make this decision about wearing masks for their for their children.”
At an event before a largely maskless crowd at a restaurant in Cape Coral, DeSantis vowed he would not change his COVID-19 policies despite the skyrocketing number of cases and hospitalizations in the state due to the rising prevalence of the highly infectious delta variant.
“If you listen to some of the stuff that’s being percolated around the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there’s a movement to try to impose more restrictions on the American people,” DeSantis said. “And I just want to say in Florida, there will be no lockdowns. There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions or mandates in the state of Florida.”
Florida’s daily COVID-19 numbers hit a high on Wednesday not seen since the post-holiday surge in January, with 17,589 new cases. More than 7,000 people have been hospitalized with the virus in the last week and another 1,500 are suspected COVID-19 hospital admissions, according to a White House report released July 26.
The state has seen a 1,780% increase in new cases in the past month.
DeSantis’ announcement comes one day after his press secretary Christina Pushaw said Broward Schools’ decision would “be addressed.”
But at the same time, Pushaw said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings’ mask guidance, and even Miami-Dade County’s mask order for county buildings, could be seen as acceptable as long as there were no restrictions on businesses or penalties.
A new law that went into effect on July 1 gives the governor the power to overrule local mandates and restrictions.
But DeSantis had already drawn a hard line when it came to school mask mandates, going as far as to threaten to bring the Legislature back for a special session if the federal government mandated it.