A Florida mother railed against Ron DeSantis to local media while maskless while standing next to her masked son outdoors, after the Florida Governor asked her son and other students at a public event to take their masks off, calling it "theater" and "ridiculous."
In an interview Wednesday with a local NBC affiliate, Dawn Marshall spoke to the outlet unmasked, while standing next to her masked son Eric:
"I'm responsible for him," she said while gesturing towards her son. "And I told him to wear that mask and Governor DeSantis, and he's looking at this adult authority and it's telling them, 'oh, you didn't have to wear the mask.'"
Earlier in the day, DeSantis was holding a news conference at the University of South Florida (USF) to announce funding for cybersecurity education. Just before it began, he turned to a group of students from Middleton High School in Tampa assembled behind him and told them they didn’t have to wear masks.
"You do not have to wear those masks. 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," DeSantis said before sighing heavily as he approached the podium and prepared for his remarks. Some of the students then removed their masks.
Despite DeSantis clearly telling the students "…if you want to wear it, fine…" Eric told the outlet that he felt pressured. "…it was more of a pressure of an adult figure asking me to do something. And it's just like, all right, why not?"
The eagle-eyed Libs of TikTok account shared a screenshot of the "pressured" student seeming to enjoy removing his mask during after DeSantis's comments.
Marshall added while still maskless, outdoors, next to her masked son, "It's just shocking that the governor told these kids. Take off your mask. It, he pretty much said take off your mask as stupid and take off your mask. Your parents don't matter, even though I'm, I'm telling you parents matter and he's still in my minor child will take off his mask."
Pundits on social media were quick to call out the obvious hypocrisy of the situation.
The governor’s press secretary Christina Pushaw told NBC 8 in response to the incident, "As the governor said, 'you can wear them if you want' but there’s 'no evidence' masks make any difference. That has been clear for a long time, and the data informed our state’s official guidance. Following Florida, the CDC has even stopped recommending mask wearing for most Americans. After two years of mixed messages from health authorities and the media, the governor wants to make sure everyone is aware of the facts and data now, so they can feel free and comfortable without a mask."
Superintendent Addison Davis of the Hillsborough School District told the outlet, "We are excited our students from Middleton High School were highlighted as part of the statewide focus around cyber security education. Our Cyber Security pathway at MHS has had tremendous success through student’s earning industry certifications, participating in internships and leading the way in computer systems and information technology. As always, our students should be valued and celebrated. It is a student and parents’ choice to protect their health in a way they feel most appropriate. We are proud of the manner in which our students represented themselves and our school district."
The governor has recently gone on an all-out attack on forced masking, saying in a video released across his social media platform that a "9 to 5 job should not be a N-95 job."
"Simply relying on outdated CDC guidance when the experience has completely undercut that is not really a reasonable thing to do at this point," DeSantis said via video.
The governor talked about his personal experiences in that statement, saying "Every time I go to these places, I’ll be in these big events and you have all these people having such a good time and the poor servers are forced to mask and I will ask them, 'Are you allowed to take the mask off?' They say 'not yet. They're all waiting for it. They all want to be liberated. They want to be treated normally," DeSantis said.