ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As school districts across the state are defying Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mask ban, he is claiming children who contract COVID-19 and recover do not need to wear masks in school because they have immunity.
News 6 is running his claims through its Trust Index.
“That’s been absolutely demonstrated and these school districts are saying, ‘No, you have to wear a mask even if your parent doesn’t want it,’” DeSantis said during a news conference in The Villages on Wednesday.
He repeated similar statements during a news conference in Fort Pierce last week.
“None of them [school districts] recognize immunity conferred through prior infection. That’s anti-science,” DeSantis said.
The governor made these claims several times over the last couple of weeks, including during a news conference in Orlando on Thursday.
“My kid has immunity from a prior infection documented by all these different studies. What possible basis does it serve to take my rights away and make them do it?” he said.
News 6 took his claims to local doctors, including pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Akinyemi Ajayi, who also serves on Orange County schools’ medical advisory committee.
“That’s all bogus,” Ajayi said.
Ajayi said it is true that children develop antibodies after recovering from COVID, but that immunity is expected to last only a few months. He said that puts children at risk for reinfection or potentially spreading COVID to family members.
He said it’s important we all take precautions to stay safe, including wearing masks, especially those who are not old enough to get the vaccine.
“Those of us that may feel protected, that may feel they’re not at risk, still have a responsibility to try to protect those who won’t protect themselves or those who can’t protect themselves,” Ajayi said.
Dr. Neil Finkler, the chief clinical officer for AdventHealth Central Florida division, agrees. He said masks are one of the tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We believe and have said all along that we really stick to the principals that we know work: masking, social distancing and hand hygiene,” Finkler said.
Ajayi adds by not mandating masks in school, children are at risk. He adds we all must do our part to bring an end to the pandemic.
“You cannot combat COVID unless we have a unified approach,” Ajayi said. “The best way to get everyone else to do the right thing is to do it alongside them.”
Based on what the governor said and why doctors said students should still wear masks in school even if they had COVID, we’re giving the governor’s claims a “be careful” on the Trust Index.
Submit your Trust Index story idea: