SANFORD, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was seen giving high-fives to a line of people Monday at President Donald Trump's first rally since his coronavirus diagnosis.
DeSantis, who fully opened the state to Phase Three of its economic recovery and has encouraged people to wear a mask when it is not possible to social distance, was not wearing a mask.
Neither were most of the president's supporters who were standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
10 Tampa Bay has reached out for comment on the governor's appearance at the president's rally but has not yet heard back. Trump praised DeSantis, one of his closest allies, for his response to the coronavirus pandemic during the past several months.
Florida's Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. plan generally recommends "wearing a face mask or cloth face cover when entering a business, or within close proximity to members of the public." There is no statewide mask mandate and, as part of DeSantis' Phase Three announcement, municipalities cannot fine people for violating local mask rules.
The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month said face masks remain the "most important powerful public health tool" against the coronavirus pandemic. It could even, Dr. Robert Redfield said at the time, be better than a vaccine as one could only have an immune response 70 percent of the time.
"If I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine’s not going to protect me. This face mask will,” Redfield said while holding up his surgical face mask.
Johnson & Johnson is the latest company to pause its vaccine study after a participant had an "unexplained illness."
The state's Department of Health reports a statewide total of 736,024 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, adding an additional 1,533 cases Monday. A total of 15,412 Floridians and 187 non-residents have died after testing positive with the virus.
Nationwide, the seven-day average of new cases has been on the increase since mid-September, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
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