July 4, 2022

Florida’s surgeon general declares opposition to mask mandates for children

Amid growing pushback over COVID-19 mitigation mandates nationwide, the surgeon general in the state of Florida this week declared his opposition to rules requiring the masking of children, in what represents a stinging rebuke of guidance issued by Biden administration officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to the Daily Caller.

The outlet noted that Dr. Joseph Ladapo, recently appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve as the state’s top medical official, spoke at an event in Brevard County during which he urged Floridians to be skeptical of what they hear regarding the supposed justification for masking kids, suggesting that “the data that supports mask use in kids and mandates for masks in kids, it is very weak, and that’s a fact.”

The Harvard-educated physician and medical professor continued, saying, “There’s a substantial gap between the quality of the data out there supporting masking kids yielding any benefit for kids whatsoever, factual, and what we’re hearing from some of our public health leadership in other states and nationally.”

Driving his point home, Ladapo stated, “The data do not support any clinical benefit for children in schools with mask mandates. The highest-quality data find no evidence of benefit,” as the Daily Caller noted.

The doctor’s stated position stands in stark contrast to guidance released this week by Biden’s CDC, which recommends the continuation of mask mandates for students as well as school staff even beyond the point at which young kids are eligible for vaccination, something officials anticipate will happen in the coming weeks, according to the New York Post.

With anti-mask protests gaining steam in states across the country, increased attention has been given to the question of whether facial coverings make any appreciable difference in transmission rates, or at least whether they have an positive impact sizable enough to outweigh the potential harms of ongoing use.

Writing in The Atlantic last month, Dr. Vinay Prasad argued that “the potential educational harms of mandatory-masking policies are much more firmly established, at least at this point, than their possible benefits in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in schools.”

The University of California at San Francisco epidemiology and biostatistics professor added, “To justify continued masking of schoolkids – with no end date in sight – we have to prove that masks benefit kids, and at what ages” and lamented that instead of conducting systematic research into those questions, “the issue has been transformed into a right-left political battle.”

In the absence of significant, quantifiable evidence that compulsory facial coverings – sometimes on children as young as two years of age – make any appreciable difference in viral spread, it is absolutely incumbent on folks like Dr. Ladapo to continue speaking out in hopes of putting an end to a practice that will arguably do lasting damage to the social and developmental growth of millions of kids.

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