Editor’s Note: During a press conference at the University of South Florida on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis seemed irritated that several high school students standing behind him on the stage were masked. “You don’t have to wear these masks,” DeSantis said. “Please take them off.” He continued: “Honestly, it doesn’t matter. We have to stop with this COVID theatre. … So if you want to wear it, fine, but it’s ridiculous. His comments sparked an avalanche of letters to the publisher objecting in some way to the way the governor treated the students.Here is a sample.
Reasons for masks
DeSantis berates students in masks | 3rd of March
When Governor Ron DeSantis berates students for wearing masks at a cybersecurity press conference and mocks them, he is disrespecting them. Does he know if they have a family member who has cancer? Maybe there’s a baby at home who can’t get vaccinated yet? Maybe they have leukemia and their doctor told them to wear a mask so they don’t get sick. Why does it hurt students to take care of their health and that of their families by wearing a mask? Wearing a mask is do not “theater” as he claimed, but it’s more about health! Again, DeSantis made wearing the mask divisive. His statement that “science says masks don’t work” is full of lies. The mask rules were relaxed based on science and because the number of COVID cases has dropped dramatically, not because they don’t work. It would help if DeSantis stopped his own “political theater.”
Jackie KannerSaint PETERSBOURG
I am not playing
Governor Ron DeSantis was elected to represent me, not to mock me. As a Florida taxpayer resident, I am:
• Living, not “acting” three years after a double lung transplant;
• Living, not “acting” with cystic fibrosis;
• Living, not “acting” with cystic fibrosis-related diabetes;
• Still alive, no “actor” at 59 years old.
Your statement that mask-wearing is “COVID theater” is an affront to me and other similarly circumscribed residents in this state.
Suzanne Joyce, Clear water
Freedom to hide
Governor Ron DeSantis talks about the freedom not to mask up. What about my freedom to carry a mask? It certainly doesn’t hurt anyone. Will he make a law specifically against wearing a mask? The man is a tyrant.
Williams fern, Zephyr Hills
The tyrant in the pulpit
Most of us have been bullied in one form or another, whether at school, playing sports, or in our workplace. It comes in all forms and in all situations and can be very painful both emotionally and physically. Some bullies we know have turned their lives around and were sincerely sorry for the hurt they caused. And then we have others who have never changed and are still happy with harassment and bullying.
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Neil J. Armstrong, Bradenton
I’m out of here
This is an example of one of the reasons I am leaving the so called “Free State of Florida”. I’m embarrassed to say I live here. I thought freedom meant we could make choices even if they weren’t in line with the governor’s thinking. The freedom not to wear a mask implies the freedom to wear a mask if we choose. Belittling students for their choice is a new low for our governor. He should be ashamed.
Barbara Renzi, Dunedin
Masks actually work
Governor Ron DeSantis tells high school students to take off their masks. He says they are not needed. Wearing them is just political theater. His office then sends out an announcement that there is absolutely no evidence that they work.
There isn’t enough room here to list all the studies that have shown them to work. I would suggest the governor take a look at Japan. The Japanese believe in it. Japan has 126 million inhabitants. Florida has 21 million inhabitants. To date, Japan has recorded 24,000 deaths from COVID. Florida has about 70,000.
Earlier this year he mocked Australia for its handling of COVID. Australia has a population of 26 million and has so far had 5,300 deaths. Other countries have had similar success. It must be nice to be in countries that value the lives of their citizens.
Jack Smith, Oldsmar
The freest state?
It’s hard to miss Governor Ron DeSantis’ irony referring to Florida as the freest state in America when he chastised college students for choosing to wear face masks and wants to stop women exercising their reproductive rights.
Mary McAlister, Tampa
We doctors wear masks
I am a doctor who was once again appalled by our governor’s belief in masks. He tells high school kids to take off their masks because they’re supposedly not working. (They do.) If he really believes what he says, then tell us doctors to take off our masks in the operating rooms because they don’t work. He should try to pass legislation requiring every hospital in our state to remove masks during surgery because they don’t work and to fine hospitals that don’t follow the law.
Armand Fuentes, Saint PETERSBOURG
This is not “COVID theater”
This “child man” who is our governor sends many mixed messages. He advocates freedom and parental rights when it suits him. However, he dares to tell the students to take off their masks because it was “COVID theater”. First, I believe parents had told their children to wear masks and the 70,000 Florida families who have lost loved ones to COVID would not describe the pandemic as “COVID theater”.
Kathleen Murphy, Saint PETERSBOURG
It’s not for him to judge
How dare Governor Ron DeSantis bully our students! They chose to wear their masks, and it was not for him to judge them. Freedom means the freedom to choose.
Ginger Brengle, Clear water
Freedom only to agree
During his press conference in Tampa, the governor embarrassed high school students who were only doing the right thing by wearing a mask to protect themselves and others. They should be encouraged to be responsible, not ridiculed by the governor. His statements on freedoms in Florida are apparently intended only for those who agree with him.
Brenda Levy, downtown sun
Students know about bullying
There’s probably not a high school student in the state these days who doesn’t know about bullying. But of the governor? His attitude with these children was mean and overbearing. He was the tallest teenager on that stage.
Judy Beck, Saint PETERSBOURG
Governor Ron DeSantis – really? What happened to personal choice and your “freest state in this United States”? I guess that’s only if people agree with you. And to intimidate high school students? Shame on you. This behavior is unworthy of any civil servant, let alone a governor.
Bob Hastings, land of lakes
The students held on
What about the students’ constitutional right to free speech and Florida’s legal right to, in a different way, “stand your ground?”
Neil McMullen, Clear water
In a word, ridiculous
Governor Ron DeSantis scolding students to remove their masks is, in his own words, ridiculous. The students who kept them were exercising the choice to choose, which DeSantis espouses, but apparently doesn’t follow. Students should be applauded for thinking for themselves.
Barry Koestler, Saint PETERSBOURG
Total absence of worry
As the free world unites, DeSantis continues to divide | March 2
This Tampa Bay Weather The editorial hits the nail on the head and – just to make sure we taxpayer citizens of Florida haven’t missed the point – the governor made it a point to poke fun at high school students during his at a press conference at the University of South Florida for wearing health protective masks during his attempted speech. The wit is mind boggling at this person’s blatant disregard for the health and welfare of the good, upright, tax-paying citizens of the state he was elected to represent and serve.
Kirk Hazlet, View of the river