On Sanibel, the island off the Southwest Florida coast, I saw nary a mask covering the faces of tourists in flip-flops and whose cars bore license plates issued as close as Cape Coral and as far away as North Dakota. A sprinkling of grocery and general store employees wore them. This happened despite the COVID rates in Lee County, perhaps as a percentage of the population as high as Miami-Dade County.
But here’s the difference: in my county, 86.2% of the population over twelve has gotten at least a shot, according to the CDC data tracker; 70.7% is fully jabbed. Compare these figures to Lee: 61.6% over twelve with one shot and 52.9% fully jabbed. I have never felt more grateful than to step into the Publix a mile south of me yesterday and see every employee and nine out of ten customers masked.
I should point out: that same Sanibel general store had almost every employee masked by the time I left Saturday morning. And the cottage complex at which we spent the week had put up signs at its office and marina requiring masks before entering. What effect on customers and guests? No budging. News like this encourages them:
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Friday that strikes down a mask mandate imposed this week by Broward schools, the only district in the state to require them.
The order states that “a right of a normal education is imperative to the growth and development of our children and adolescents.” It gives parents the right to ignore any COVID-19 mask mandates in schools.
Richard Corcoran, commissioner of education, is granted “all legal means available” to ensure compliance, including withholding state funds.
The Broward School Board passed the mask mandate Wednesday due to new federal guidance and rising COVID-19 rates. But board members say they’re unlikely to challenge DeSantis’ new rule.
What he said in a speech a couple days ago:
“If you listen to some of the stuff that’s being percolated around the CDC, there’s a movement to try to impose more restrictions on the American people,” DeSantis said. “And I just want to say in Florida, there will be no lockdowns. There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions or mandates in the state of Florida.”
I admire the governor’s adherence to slovenly word chic (“percolated”) despite his education at two Ivy League schools. Ignoring the sobering news about hospitalizations counts as a talent too.