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Ag Commissioner Holds First COVID Briefing, Urges Masks and Vaccines

July 28th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Commissioner of Agriculture and gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Fried is taking on the Governor again , holding her first COVID-19 press conference following the recent spike in cases.

The commissioner said she’s stepping up because the Governor won’t.

In the cabinet room Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis held a private roundtable casting doubt on the effectiveness of masks in school.

“Our confidence in some of the pediatric leadership and some of the medical leadership has been shattered by how these people have reacted to this pandemic,” said DeSantis.

In the same room two days later, his possible 2022 opponent had a different message.

“We are very much still in the middle of a major public health crisis in this state,” said Fried.

The Democratic Ag Commissioner encouraged Floridians to mask up, vaccinated or not, in accordance with new CDC guidance.

“These are things that we already know. We’ve been living with this for almost a year and a half,” said Fried.

She also advised parents to heed the universal masking recommendation from the CDC when sending their kids back to school.

“Buy different types of masks, whether it is with dinosaurs or their favorite cartoons. You know this is maybe an inconvenience to them, but I’d rather it be a small inconvenience that you can make fun, than at the risk of getting our children sick,” said Fried

Fried pointed out that all she and local governments can do is encourage masking and vaccination.

The Florida Legislature took mandates and fines off the table this past legislative session.

And Fried acknowledged the uphill battle officials face convincing the 40 percent of eligible Floridians who so far have said no to the shot.

“95 percent of the people that are dying and in the hospitals are people that have been unvaccinated, and so eventually these individuals are gonna know family members and friends who are in the hospitals and it may take that to be a wake up call to so many people. I’m hoping that we can prevent that,” said Fried.

Fried also called on the Governor to restart daily COVID data reporting.

In an emailed statement DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw told us, “The COVID data that Nikki Fried discussed today is reported to the CDC every day by the Florida Department of Health. Therefore, the state is in fact providing that data – where else would she have gotten it? It is not “hidden” or obfuscated in any way, and it’s regrettable that a Florida elected official would imply that DOH is doing anything improper in terms of COVID reporting. The data is publicly available, though it’s not clear why Fried is presenting it with her own commentary, because she isn’t a doctor, epidemiologist, or public health specialist.”

And the Commissioner said Wednesday’s briefing will be the first of many, but declined to give specifics on how many or how often.

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