COVID-19 INFECTIONS are NOT Acceptable Collateral Damage
Two states' Republican Governors disregard public health safety protocols set by the highest medical authorities and put their political aspirations over our children's welfare.
New Covid-19 cases reported in Texas and Florida accounted for one-third of all infections were reported in the United States last week.
Two outspoken governors, Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, have rejected public health advice, opposing mask and vaccine regulations. That has fueled anger inside the White House.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House had offered help to Texas and Florida governors. She described the talks with Austin and Tallahassee as ongoing, suggesting that the offer from Washington had not yet been accepted. The standstill has plainly exasperated the White House, which wants to see the spike in the Delta variant subside. That will be impossible without curbing its spread across the Southeast.
"If you aren't going to help, if you aren't going to abide by public health guidance, then get out of the way and let people do the right thing," Psaki told Yahoo News on Tuesday in response to a query regarding DeSantis and Abbott in particular.
When asked to explain what she meant by having the two governors "get out of the way," Psaki said, "That means don't ban, don't make it harder for people to put requirements on masks — or asking for vaccination status — into law."
Florida school districts are preparing to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis' order prohibiting schools from requiring children to wear masks, setting up a showdown with the Republican governor. He has consistently opposed any Covid-related regulations.
Late Tuesday night, in Alachua County, Florida, school board members decided to compel all children to wear masks for the first two weeks of school.
And Leon County, which contains Tallahassee, said Wednesday morning that it is trying to implement a mandatory mask regulation for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade children.
Both are clear rebukes to DeSantis' executive order barring schools from requiring kids to wear masks.
"I believe that we do not need to engage in any conflict with the governor," said Robert Hyatt, a school board member in Alachua County, where two custodians died of the virus in recent days.
"To my mind, this is not defiance. It's reacting to the circumstance as it is."
Even the Broward County School District, which had previously said that it would comply with DeSantis' directive, declared Wednesday that it would maintain its mask requirement indefinitely.
Recent actions demonstrate how school districts across Florida are coping with an increase in coronavirus diagnoses while navigating DeSantis' rejection of Covid requirements.
The governor, who has repeatedly minimized the virus's danger, has prohibited towns and schools from implementing Covid measures like masks or vaccination passports.
District officials are faced with a choice: repeal mask requirements or risk losing state funds.
"As divisive as it may be, I think this is the prudent course of action in the interim until we get a greater knowledge of the Delta variation and its effect on school-aged children," Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna said on Wednesday.
Between July 23 and 29, the state Department of Health recorded 10,785 new Covid-19 infections in children under the age of 12, while the US Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 11,500 hospitalizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Florida witnessed more than 50,000 new illnesses and 100 fatalities during a recent three-day period.
Florida currently accounts for approximately one in every five new infections in the United States.
Against this backdrop, school districts throughout the state are trying to create new regulations that protect children while still adhering to DeSantis' directives.
In Duval County, school officials decided Tuesday to require children to wear masks — with the proviso that parents may opt-out.
However, DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said that state agencies are completing health and education emergency regulations this week to enable parents to choose whether or not to have their children wear masks.
"School districts will be required to provide this option to parents," she added.
Numerous additional Florida school districts require instructors, visitors, and vendors on campus to wear masks.
Despite DeSantis' directive, Alachua, Leon, and Broward counties are the first to advocate for student masks.
School officials admitted that enforcing obligatory mask regulations at the direction of DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran may eventually cost schools financially if the state retaliates.
"Corcoran and his crew — they are going for our money," Alachua County School Board Chair Leanetta McNealy said Tuesday.
"I'd prefer they pursue our money than that we place folks in funeral homes."
School authorities in Alachua see it as a matter of life and death.
Apart from the two deceased janitors, the school system is now dealing with 15 positive Covid-19 cases only days before classes begin, Carlee Simon, the local school administrator, said Tuesday.
On Aug. 17, Alachua's school board, which serves about 28,000 kids in the Gainseville region, is scheduled to review the district's mandatory mask mandate.
"We're approaching a point where we're actually losing our workforce," Simon said.
Psaki also addressed the deteriorating situation in Florida and Texas on Monday, referring to both governors' political ambitions, who are generally considered to be presidential aspirants.
"Leaders will have to decide whether to follow public health standards or political expediency," she added.
The DeSantis administration retaliated swiftly.
Psaki is playing politics with the epidemic by dismissing Gov. DeSantis' attempts to protect vulnerable Floridians, his communications director, Christina Pushaw, said Fox News on Monday.
Abbott has criticized what he called "draconian restrictions" on the epidemic, saying that illegal migrants at the US-Mexico border posed a bigger threat than the Delta variant's spread.
In retort to the White House's plea, DeSantis blasted back at a frustrated president…
"This is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to, quote, shut down the virus," DeSantis said. "And what has he done? He's imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border."
"Why don't you do your job? Why don't you get this border secure, and until you do that, I don't want to hear a blip about COVID from you," he continued before abruptly leaving the mic.
Mr. Governor, stop with the political talking points and do the job of protecting Florida's residents from this horrible virus. It is not an honor to be Number One. Become the hero you have the potential to be.
Ron DeSantis Keeps Battling Biden On Covid As FL Cases Surge