In a scathing criticism of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the state’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said he isn’t telling “the truth” about mask efficacy in local public schools.
DeSantis has ordered school districts to ditch mask mandates and warned that districts not complying will not get funding. The Republican governor has all along asserted that masks are “ineffective” in keeping children protected from COVID-19. The governor’s comments come as nearly 850,000 child COVID cases have been reported in the United States over the past four weeks, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
As per publicly available school district data collected by Fried, school districts that made masks mandatory from day one had the lowest cases among students.
“Gov. DeSantis is lying about masks in school. Kids were much better off in school districts with mask mandates than those without it,” Fried said Thursday.
Mask Mandate ‘Useful’
She said Miami-Dade, the largest school district in the state and where mask-wearing was made compulsory from the very beginning, had per-capita 600 fewer cases than the worst of the districts.
“Miami-Dade, Alachua and Broward were the three Florida Districts which followed mask mandate right from the time they opened and they had 3.5 times fewer cases than districts in which mask-wearing wasn’t compulsory.”
“This new data clearly shows that punishing schools is no way based on science and it is being done for political reasons, with intention to intimidate and designed to shore up governor’s future presidential bid,” said Fried, who is going to run for governor’s post.
DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw hit back at Fried’s claims, saying, “She is siding with conspiracy theorists who without evidence believe that the state is hiding COVID-19 data. The Florida Department of Health, which is not Fried’s agency, collects all COVID-19 data. The school dashboard numbers haven’t been verified. Fried claims it is hidden data, which isn’t accurate. It is misrepresentation of some aspect of Florida data that has been cherry-picked by her.”
School districts like Miami-Dade and Orange County Public Schools have refused to comply with the order and continue to implement mask mandates in their schools.
The federal government has provided funding to some of the districts after the state’s department of education withdrew it for not complying with its orders.
California Officials Urge State Residents To Get Flu Vaccine
Californian state public health officials have asked residents to get flu vaccine shots, especially those who belong to the high-risk group of 65-year-olds and above.
Flu season, which starts in October and goes on till May, speeds up in November and December, the Department of Public Health, California, said.
Last year, the flu season’s impact was blunted as measures adopted by the state public health department to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic like wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and washing hands regularly also stopped its spread.
But this year, the danger of both diseases spreading is very likely, according to Dr. Tomas Aragon, California Department of Public Health Director and Public Health Officer, reported Krone4.
“In the middle of Covid-19 pandemic, a severe flu outbreak could have devastating consequences for California,” Dr. Aragon said.
“Getting vaccinated for flu is simple and safe and it will help in keeping people out of hospitals which will turn reduce strain on the public health care system,” he added.
Everyone from six months old and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine and in particular, it is very important for high-risk groups, including the aged and those who smoke or have some underlying health issues, pregnant women, children aged 5 or younger, residents of the long-term care facility and employees and workers in industries.
Public health officials have said that it is safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine on the same days.
Flu Vaccine Is Free
Flu vaccines are available free of cost or low cost at almost all retail pharmacies, clinics, healthcare providers, and some health departments.
According to health officials, most insurance, including Medi-Cal, is accepted at Retail Pharmacies.
Flu is an infectious disease caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include fever, headache, coughing, sore throat, muscle pain, fatigue, and runny nose.
The symptoms usually appear one to two days after contracting the virus and can last from two to eight days. In children, vomiting and diarrhea can occur, experts say.
Flu can turn into pneumonia and other complications can occur which include acute respiratory distress syndrome, encephalitis, and meningitis. Existing conditions like asthma and cardiovascular disease can get aggravated.
For more information on annual flu, click the following link: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/Influenza.aspx.
San Francisco, Marin County Relax Indoor Mask Rule
As most of the Bay Area counties continue to enforce mask wearing to keep COVID-19 at bay, from Friday onwards vaccinated people in San Francisco and Marin County need not wear masks in some indoor settings with Contra Costa County slated to join on Nov. 1.
The rule applies to a gathering of not more than 100 people, who all have received certified vaccinations, and is valid for offices, college classes, religious gatherings, fitness centers, gyms, and employee commuter vehicles. This means that kids under 12 who haven’t got their shots, will have to wear masks.
MX3 Fitness Glenn Shope welcomed the new mask rule.
“It is beneficial as doing high-intensity workout without wearing a mask will become a lot less straining. It also makes task of gym owners and trainers easier who now don’t have to keep asking people to follow mask rule and put masks properly. The new rule also sends out the signal that it is safe to return to gym,” Shope said while talking to The Mercury News.
Masking To Remain In Most Counties
The change comes even as most Bay Area counties haven’t reached the thresholds they laid out last week for people to start discarding their masks in most indoor settings.
Under the criteria, which was agreed to by eight out of the nine county health officers, indoor mask requirement for the vaccinated can only be dropped after a county’s three-week COVID-19 transmission rate reaches the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s yellow “moderate” tier and at least 80% of the population is fully vaccinated. Hospitalization rates must also be low.
Only Marin County is close to meeting the criteria. On Wednesday, it achieved CDC’s moderate transmission rate criteria allowing it to drop the full mask rule in November if the transmission rate remains steady. About 77.4% of the population is fully vaccinated and hospitalizations are low, according to CDC.
Supply Chain Jams: Avoid California, Bring Your Ships Here, Florida Tells Shipping Companies
The Florida Ports Council is asking shipping companies to bring their ships to the state via the Panama Canal as ships pile up in California awaiting their turn to unload containers.
To untangle the snarl in California, President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that Los Angeles port will work 24/7 along with Long Beach port and that UPS and FedEx also increasing their overnight operations. The president had earlier this year formed a Supply Chains Task Force and appointed a Port Envoy to find remedies for the disruption.
Florida Ports Council’s president and chief executive officer, Mike Rubin, said the 7-day voyage through Panama Canal will benefit shipping companies as they wouldn’t have to pay a moorage fee.
The idea is supported by Jonathan Daniels, chief executive, and director of Port Everglades.
Pandemic To Blame
Megan Greene, global chief economist and senior fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School, told Local10.com that the supply problem started with factory shutdowns in China during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In U.S. the issue is more to do with labor. There are shortage (sic) of longshore workers and truck drivers who take goods out of containers and transport them into stores and onto shelves,” Greene said.
As COVID-19 eases up, countries have started to reopen their economies which has again kickstarted demand, but companies haven’t been able to keep up. This has also resulted in shipping costs going up and coupled with a shortage of drivers, prices are also skyrocketing, said Greene.
All issues have their roots in the pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, everything was shut down and demand also went down. So, people like workers and drivers lost their jobs. Now, as things are opening up and demand surges, it has become difficult for everyone to cope.
According to Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist. “It is all because of the pandemic. It has disrupted all markets.”
According to a BBC report, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, known to be the main seaborne gateway to the United States, have been hit hard.
The report said that Los Angeles had to move 30% more shipping containers than usual in August. On the other hand, Long Beach moved an extra 23%.
Citing one instance in September, the report said a record number of 73 ships were forced to queue outside for a berth.
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