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OPINION: DeSantis, a misinformation superspreader

Gov. Ron DeSantis called students out for wearing masks when he should be worried about making educated statements. WFLA/EVAN DONOVAN

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited USF on March 2 for a press conference to announce funding for cybersecurity education, but before it had even started, he was already off topic.

Prior to greeting his audience, or even taking the podium, he scolded a group of mask-wearing students in attendance, as shown in footage from WFLA.

“You do not have to wear those masks,” DeSantis said. “I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”

Addressing students in such a manner as an elected official was inappropriate, especially when spreading misinformation about COVID-19. DeSantis needs to make more educated statements, even more so when talking with students.

Masks have been proven to be effective through many studies, directly disproving DeSantis’ claims.

N95, N99 and N100 masks can block at least 95%, 99% and 99.97% of particles, respectively, according to a 2021 report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The same report found that when worn properly, surgical masks are just as effective at blocking COVID-19.

To say the pandemic is theatrical and ridiculous is disrespectful to those who’ve been majorly impacted by the virus.

There have been 951,778 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. as of Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker. Globally, there have been about 5.95 million COVID-19 deaths as of Wednesday.

Misinformation of the virus also unnecessarily costs people their health. A prime example of this is Herman Cain, former Republican presidential candidate.

Cain publicly denounced the pandemic on social media, claiming it to be a hoax, as shown in his tweet from April 30, 2020.

“Don’t believe everything you hear on Fake News,” Cain said. “I never had the Wuhan Flu, because it doesn’t exist. #maskoff #mybodymychoice #plandemic.”

The following July, Cain tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized. On July 30, 2020, Cain died from COVID-19.

It’s definitely not “ridiculous” to want to protect yourself and others with scientifically proven protective gear, such as masks.