Florida Surgeon General Joseph Lapado is urging parents to step away from what they hear on television, telling them that the data supporting children wearing masks is "very weak."
"I want you guys to step back for a moment from what you hear sort of constantly on TV. And just very briefly in terms of the data that the supports mask use in kids and mandates for masking kids, it is very weak. And that's a fact," said Lapado in a news conference on Wednesday.
Lapado stated that there is a "substantial gap" between the quality of data supporting the wearing of masks by children, and what is being instructed by public health officials.
"In Florida, we're going to stay close to the data, and we're going to let you know how we feel about the data. And the data do not support any clinical benefit for children in schools with mask mandates. The highest quality data find no evidence of benefit," said Lapado.
Lapado noted stories from parents across the nation, saying that these parents are put in "impossible situations."
"Putting a mask, something on the face of your child, that's a parent's decision. It's not a school decision. It's not a school board's decision. It's not a governor's decision. It's it's no one else's decision, except for the parent," said Lapado. "And parents have been placed in these impossible situations related to the health of their children."
Governor Ron DeSantis chimed in, noting a Twitter thread from Biden's Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona that cited a few studies in support of masking children.
"He cited one study from North Carolina which said force masking of kids works, but it had no control group, because that was required in every school. So they just said it work without comparing it against 'what if you didn't do that,' and people pointed that out immediately," said DeSantis.
"Then he cited a study from the University — or from Wisconsin about it. And the researcher who did the study immediately responded to the tweet and said, 'we found no conclusive evidence on the force masking' and basically said that 'you should not use my study to do that,'" DeSantis continued.
DeSantis has taken a hard stance against forced masking in schools over the last few months, taking several steps to not have children be forced to wear masks at school.
In September, DeSantis signed an Emergency Rule that directed how to contain the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Included in that was the ability for parents to opt-out of their children wearing masks.
That order came after a judge ruled in August that his ban on mask mandates in school was "unconstitutional." The judge ruled that letting parents have the ultimate say in whether their children will wear masks to be "without legal authority."