Florida is doing this whole pandemic thing differently than the rest of the nation, led by gung-ho Governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis, a Republican, has been long considered a likely potential candidate for the 2024 GOP nomination, and some have suggested that his unique brand of COVID-19 regulation is all part of an attempt to garner some national attention. That would explain why some of the his messaging has been so aggressive, of course with the Sunshine State lawmaker even going so far as to attempt to ban schools from enacting mask mandates.
That decree was handed another litigious loss this week, however.
A Florida judge ruled Wednesday that the state cannot enforce a ban on public schools mandating the use of masks to guard against the coronavirus, while an appeals court sorts out whether the ban is ultimately legal.
Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper lifted an automatic stay of his decision last week that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and state education officials exceeded their authority by imposing the blanket ban through executive order and tagging defiant pro-mask local school boards with financial penalties.
The judge seemed to toe the CDC line in his ruling.
Cooper said the overwhelming evidence before him in a lawsuit by parents challenging the DeSantis ban is that wearing masks does provide some protection for children in crowded school settings, particularly those under 12 for whom no vaccine yet exists. The issue came to a head amid a recent surge in cases caused by the more contagious and deadly delta variant of the virus, which health statistics show has begun to wane.
DeSantis has vowed to fight to keep his liberty-minded orders intact, while also adamantly denying rumors of his West Wing ambitions.