The recent surge of Covid-19, driven by the Delta variant, has reignited political controversy around mask-wearing in the United States, with some governors opposing all measures to make masks mandatory despite advice from health authorities.
The dispute feels familiar, harkening back to the early days of the pandemic when masks became a symbol of political affiliation in the US — the clash led by then-president Donald Trump, who made it a point of pride to be seen without a face covering.
More than a year later, the subject has again become particularly
sensitive as another school year approaches.
“This should be something that a parent is ultimately making the decision on,” Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida reiterated on Tuesday, having banned his state’s schools from requiring students to wear masks.
“We’re going to do whatever we can to vindicate the rights of parents,” he said.
Several Florida school districts have announced plans to defy the governor’s order and require masks anyway.
In response, DeSantis threatened to cut their funding or even suspend the salaries of school officials.
“That a governor has the authority to say, ‘You can’t do that’ — I find
that totally counter intuitive and quite frankly disingenuous,” President Joe
Biden, a Democrat, said Tuesday.