Following Governor Ron DeSantis’ reconvening of his panel of health care experts yesterday to discuss the YouTube removal of video of the team’s March 21 round table discussion, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner issued a sharp retort.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only Democrat serving on the state’s cabinet and a likely political opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial race said, “This Governor’s unhinged, dangerous rhetoric on COVID-19 continued today, elevating fringe conspiracy theories and once again repeating the claim that children don’t need to take the simple, common-sense precaution of wearing a mask — a claim so reckless, YouTube banned it last time. Over the course of a year in which 2 million Floridians have been sickened, 34,000 have died, and 1 million have lost jobs, this Governor has blamed everyone including the media, Hispanic farmworkers, China, and ‘Big Tech,’ while taking no responsibility for hiding data, silencing critics, and lying to Floridians. This Governor and his priorities are shockingly out of touch with what people are going through, and the complete lack of steady, responsible leadership has made this public health crisis worse than needed.”
So what exactly, did the governor and experts say yesterday that was so “dangerous?” Here’s the full video from the Florida Channel.
DeSantis said that the panelists, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, PhD, biostatistician, epidemiologist, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School said that masks are not recommended for kids and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, said kids shouldn’t be wearing masks because it could be potentially harmful. DeSantis said that according to YouTube, that “contradicts consensus.”
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend masks for children under the age of five. For those six to ten, they should only wear masks in “widespread transmission” areas and warns that wearing a mask at this age could have a “potential impact on learning and psychosocial development.”
The comment about the potential negative impact on children trying to learn Is one of the exact concerns raised by the panelists. One of them said developing children need to see people’s faces to learn to read facial expressions.
Kulldorff later said that once vaccinated, people do not need to wear a mask. He raised the point that by Dr. Anthony Fauci continuing to insist even those vaccinated should continue to wear masks, he was reducing the public’s trust in the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Bhattacharya said that at the beginning of the pandemic in “February 2020 lockdowns were seen a radical step. Pre-pandemic plans that I knew about did not recommend lockdowns under the situations we ended up doing it.”
He said, “Even Biden’s advisors opposed lockdowns back then.”
Biden’s team has come out against the same massive, widespread lockdowns seen early in the pandemic as DeSantis’ panel.
As recently as November 2020, Celine Gounder, a member of the Biden task force and infectious disease specialist at NYU told CNBC, “As a group the consensus is we need a more nuanced approach (to lockdowns), we’ve learned a lot since the spring, and we can be much more targeted geographically, we can also be much more targeted in terms of what we close. So I think of this as a dimmer switch not an on and off light switch.”
Kulldorff, during the March roundtable, said severe lockdowns should have been replaced with a “focused protection” for seniors and those most at risk of death from the virus.
He said the consequences of people not going for regular cancer screenings and doctor’s appointments during the lockdowns could have long-term negative health consequences, including an increase in deaths.
Dr. Scott W. Atlas, Robert Wesson Senior Fellow in health care policy at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University said yesterday that some most adversely affected by the lockdowns are those in the 18 to 24 age group.
He called them the “Damaged Generation.” He said one in four young adults had considered suicide during the pandemic. He said more college-aged people admitted to being afraid of going out in public (50 percent) than those in the 60 and over age group. He also said 70 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds gained more weight than intended with the average being 28 pounds.
Atlas said we had done “massive catastrophic damage” to that generation.