DeSantis Opponent Nikki Fried Accuses Governor of Lying About Masks as She Lies About Masking Data

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Nikki Fried continues to stumble in her effort to start her gubernatorial campaign.

Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic challenger to Ron DeSantis next year, Nikki Fried made a frontal assault yesterday in a press conference, targeting DeSantis regarding the ever-controversial mask ordinances for schools within the state. She released COVID mask data she says refutes the positions DeSantis has taken. Ron DeSantis is lying to you about masks in schools … In every single case, kids were better off in school districts that required masks than school districts that did not,” Fried said in her official statement.

It speaks volumes that she resorts to distorted data in order to make her contention. As the masks have never been effectively shown to have any discernable safety impact in the pandemic, proof would be hard to come by, but she commissioned her own staff to compile numbers for her assault. What she came up with is a mess.

The first indicator of trouble comes from the sample size. The measurement is made of roughly only half of the schools, as Fried’s calculations come from 33 of Florida’s 67 counties that publish weekly COVID-19 data for schools. The Florida Department of Health weighed in on the matter, stating how her study excluded huge amounts of students in the analysis. She relied strictly on a particular health dashboard, which means that over 40% of students from areas without mask mandates were not even recorded. 

Ron DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw offered up their clear dispute of Fried’s contentions.

Fried’s office claimed that the “3.5 times” figure (since retracted and revised to 2 times) is based on data from three school districts in Florida. This paints an inaccurate picture for many reasons — first of all, Florida has 67 school districts. COVID-19 cases statewide have declined more than 95% since school started. The magnitude of decline in COVID-19 infection rate among children 5-17 has shown no statistically significant difference when comparing districts with and without mask mandates.

Another factor that botched her study — they did not account for various districts having schools opening at differing dates, so the timelines were inaccurately compared. And yet another issue was the mischaracterization of a mid-range school district being labeled as rural. Then there was another data point she offered that was off-kilter.

The state DOH had to ultimately issue a rebuttal statement to correct the various inaccuracies, with this being the most revelatory stat contained therein: 

There is no evidence that schools are high-risk locations of spread. A study supported by CDC and completed by the State Epidemiologist, alongside the State Surgeon General and other top experts at the Department of Health, found that fewer than 1% of students had school-related COVID-19. 

Adding to the refutations is the state Surgeon General, Joseph Ladapo, M.D., laying out how the Fried study was not in any fashion an epidemiologically accurate one. He gave a thread taking her to task for spouting out results that are a pure departure from scientific accuracy.

Your team’s analysis doesn’t account for important factors beyond masks, such as testing frequency, community spread, etc. Did all these schools collect data in the same way, define cases in the same way, and mitigate spread the same way?

As for media corrections, critiques, or even questions regarding Fried’s claims? Those are in short supply. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel tried to come up with their own data to buttress Fried’s delivery. 

As of this week, children make up more than a quarter of new COVID-19 cases nationwide, and fewer than half of eligible kids 12 and older are fully vaccinated. In Florida, children make up more than a half-million cases statewide.” Note the manipulations at play. They need to resort to a national statistic, a qualified metric of a percentage of new cases, and then tie it up with the cumulative total of statewide cases. This is the level the press goes to in order to support a favored politician. 

Consider all of the times we have seen since the pandemic outbreak when Ron DeSantis has been scorched in the press over supposed infractions or mistakes made, most of which have been proven inaccurate, to be generous. Yet, here we have a state official delivering provably false data — actually coming out to later correct some misstatements — and the muted media reaction speaks volumes. The lack of critical coverage tells us everything about where the desires of the media rest, both local and national.

The disturbing aspect is these are the same media members who perpetually lecture about the need for medical accuracy in reports. They are permissive with a politician pushing out inaccurate data…as long as that politician is on the correct side of the COVID debate.