UCF student’s COVID-19 case at center of Florida political fight

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay says her teen daughter went to ER

Masked students? UCF outlines big changes under reopening plan

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Florida county commissioner is firing back at an anti-mask critic who took to social media, claiming to show the official’s hypocrisy for pushing coronavirus safety precautions on the public while letting her COVID-19 positive daughter defy them.

After Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay announced Tuesday that her 19-year-old daughter, who attends the University of Central Florida in Orlando, was in the emergency room with COVID-19, Boca Raton resident Rachel Eade posted pictures and video on Facebook taken from the commissioner’s daughter’s Instagram page.

In one image Eade grabbed from the teen's Instagram account, McKinlay’s daughter shows off a tattoo. She lip-syncs with a friend in a video. And a Sept. 6 photo shows her with a friend, with neither wearing a mask.

Tattoo parlors have reopened across much of Florida and it is not clear when the daughter got the tattoo. Also, McKinlay says her daughter is following all protocols at the University of Central Florida in Orlando where she attends classes.

Three days after the Sept. 6 photo, she was tested for the coronavirus and learned a week later she was positive, the commissioner said. McKinlay’s test was negative.

Eade has pushed for reopening shuttered businesses and joined a lawsuit to quash the county's mask policy, the Palm Beach Post reported.

After Eade's post, McKinlay shot back with a fiery missive of her own on her county commission Facebook page at those accusing her daughter of wrongdoing.

“My God, the hate in this community is absurd," she wrote. “You should be ashamed of it. I don’t give a damn if you don’t vote for me again. Your vote isn’t one I want.”

McKinlay, a Democrat, won re-election to a second four-year commission term in 2018, and will be forced out by term limits in 2022.

Eade told the newspaper she made the post to hold McKinlay accountable because it was “no different” than when commissioners used images of people flouting COVID-19 rules at nightclubs to “make a point that ‘health advice’ was not being heeded.”

“As a representative of the people, this board cannot expect to stop the world, shutter businesses in our community, destroy livelihoods, take food off the plates of families and children, restrict the breathing and movement of an entire community, and not expect there to be individuals who investigate whether their actions back up their words,” Eade told the newspaper.

Critics of the county's measures to control the coronavirus quickly added their own thoughts to Eade's Facebook post.

Josie Machovec, a fellow plaintiff in the mask mandate lawsuit, wrote that the post made her “rageful because she (McKinlay) expects all of us to change our behavior to ‘protect’ her child. But when we bring up the fact that those things can and do harm our children she doesn’t care. Only her child’s comfort is important.”

Eade called McKinlay’s announcement about her daughter Tuesday a “partial sob story.”

“As a mother, I certainly wish no child ill, but we have to ask why she feels her own child is not bound by the rules she is creating and trying to enforce?” Eade wrote.

McKinlay said her daughter is not defying coronavirus protocols.

“She was home with me all summer. She followed the rules, she wore her mask, she washed her hands,” McKinlay said.

She said her daughter is adhering to UCF’s coronavirus policies.

“She takes that threat seriously,” McKinlay said. “She finds it absolutely ridiculous and laughable that people are making these accusations.”

In an Instagram post made Thursday, the daughter said she likely contracted the virus from a friend of her roommate who visited their Orlando apartment.

“This should show many of you, that jumping to conclusions can often leave you looking quite dense. Maybe if you put half the time you spent stalking a college girl’s Instagram, into worrying about more important things going on in the world, you could help a cause in need,” she wrote, attaching links to wildfire relief, child trafficking awareness, addiction prevention and Black Lives Matter.


Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.