Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation are calling upon Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue a statewide order for Floridians to wear masks in public as the state continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., weighed in on the letter on Wednesday and she came out swinging at the governor.
“First, Governor DeSantis was too slow to acknowledge community spread had hit Florida and dragged his feet on urging residents to stay at home. Then DeSantis rushed the state into a re-opening, with no regard for a resurgence like we’re seeing now,” said Wasserman Schultz. “We’re sounding the alarm for the governor to end this parade of mistakes and issue a mandatory order to all residents that they need to wear masks in public. The governor must end his ‘nothing to see here’ approach and put public health over political pandering to his base.”
U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., who served as U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) during President Bill Clinton’s administration, also offered her take on the request.
“As restrictions have eased, Florida has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 infections,” said Shalala. “Wearing a face mask is scientifically proven to help reduce the risk of spreading this disease. Gov. DeSantis has repeatedly mentioned that people must take a measure of personal responsibility during this pandemic. I hope that he will feel that same sense of responsibility to keep Florida safe by requiring masks to be worn in public statewide.”
Other signers of the letter include Florida Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto and Frederica Wilson.
For his part, DeSantis held a media event in Orlando on Tuesday and noted there has been a “real explosion in new cases among our younger demographics” as Florida continues to grapple with the pandemic.
The governor rejected a statewide order for wearing masks, saying it would be impossible to enforce.
“When you attach criminal penalties for something, you got to enforce it,” DeSantis said. “The question is, in some of the parts of Florida, is that really a good use of resources?”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.