Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) dismissed the need for mask mandates in the Sunshine State on Wednesday, emphasizing the importance of personal liberty while reminding reporters of scientific research showing cloth and surgical masks are relatively ineffective in blocking the transmission of exhaled aerosols.
During a press conference in The Villages on Wednesday during which the governor announced the opening of another monoclonal antibody treatment center, a reporter asked DeSantis to explain his position on the role masks play in addressing the pandemic.
“They should not be mandated. No government entity should force you to do that. That is your choice. If that’s something you believe provides you protection, no one is going to say anything to you. But that should not, absolutely not be mandated,” DeSantis said, adding that such mandates “obviously” cannot occur in the state of Florida under his leadership and that it is his view that masking should remain a personal choice.
DeSantis continued, seemingly referring to recent studies suggesting that cloth and surgical masks are not an effective means of mitigation — at least not to the extent the corporate media have presented.
“I will say that from a scientific perspective, you have, even some of these experts now are acknowledging, with an aerosolized virus, a piece of cloth is not going to stop the aerosols,” DeSantis said:
When they started doing the masks last year, the thought was it was respiratory droplets, and so the respiratory droplets, maybe you could intercept some. When you’re starting to talk about aerosol transmission — something that’s very highly contagious — just understand. An N95, a medical mask, you know, that will intercept some of the aerosols. But just a piece of cloth is not going to do that. Osterholm, one of Biden’s advisers, has acknowledged that. You got other people who are acknowledging that.
“I leave that [masking] to people to make their own judgments. If they feel comfortable with that, do it. But absolutely not should that be mandated in any way,” he continued, pointing out that many places that have had mask mandates in place — and are now reintroducing them — have also seen significant increases in virus cases:
“And you’ve seen places that have done the mandates and they’ve had huge increases even above what Florida has — Louisiana per capita was significantly higher than Florida this summer. So, yeah, I think that’s a choice. … We trust people to make their own decisions in this state,” he said:
We are not going to be bludgeoning people with restrictions and mandates and lockdowns or any of that stuff. It hasn’t worked, obviously. It has immense cost to society, and so, you’re going to be able to make those decisions for yourself, and I think our job is to be able to protect your right to be able to make those decisions for yourself:
Indeed, recent studies have indicated that cloth and surgical masks are not overwhelmingly effective in blocking exhaled aerosols. A recent University of Waterloo study found both types of masks block roughly ten percent of exhaled aerosols, as Breitbart News detailed:
“The results show that a standard surgical and three-ply cloth masks, which see current widespread use, filter at apparent efficiencies of only 12.4% and 9.8%, respectively,” the study concluded, noting that KN95 and N95 masks were far more effective at filtering out aerosols.
“Apparent efficiencies of 46.3% and 60.2% are found for KN95 and R95 masks, respectively, which are still notably lower than the verified 95% rated ideal efficiencies,” researchers continued in the data published last month prior to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reversing course, advising fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks if they are in high-risk areas.
Meanwhile, some blue state leaders have begun reintroducing mask mandates. On Tuesday, for example, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced an outdoor mask mandate, which goes as far as recommending individuals mask at outdoor private settings when a gathering involves different households and physical distancing is not feasible:
Even Dr. Antony Fauci admitted in an email last year that drug store masks are “not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”