CNN Wails Over DeSantis Calling Out Mask ‘COVID Theater’

At This Hour host and Florida-based CNN reporter Steve Contorno blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday for pointing out what cities and states across the country are finally realizing: that masks are no longer necessary to fight COVID-19. Still, the duo labeled DeSantis a “scolding” hypocrite and falsely claimed that his COVID response was “far worse” than the rest of the country.

Even as she acknowledged mask mandates are disappearing across the country, Bolduan introduced a viral video of DeSantis at an event in Tampa with some high schoolers, where the Governor proclaimed, “You do not have to wear those masks. I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve got to stop with COVID theater. So, if you want to wear it, fine, but this is — this is — ridiculous.”

Nothing DeSantis said was wrong. At this point it is ridiculous and theater, but Bolduan still accused DeSantis of “scolding” the students, “You may not have to, but the governor there scolding a group of high school students for exercising their right to wear a mask if they want to. CNN’s Steve Contorno, live in Florida with more on this. Steve, what do you think is going on?”

Contorno began by trying to insist that DeSantis was being hypocritical: “Well, that video, Kate, went viral very quickly and Governor DeSantis is earning widespread criticism from Democrats for being a – they’re calling him a bully and hypocrite because he’s been all about mask choice.”

After reporting that DeSantis is fundraising off the moment, Contorno attempted to tie his remarks to Florida’s allegedly disastrous COVID record:

And, really, we should talk about Florida’s history leading up to this moment and sort of what we’ve seen in this country as we enter the next phase of the pandemic. We have — we’re now coming up on almost 1 million coronavirus deaths across the U.S., which — with up to 1,800 people still dying almost every day. Florida recently surpassed 70,000 deaths and hundreds more are recorded every single week. And overall, Florida has the third most deaths in the country by state, trailing only Texas and California. Though, if you look at per capita deaths, Florida is actually doing far worse than those states and worse than the country overall. 

Yes, Florida has more deaths, but that’s because they have more people than most states, but even Contorno’s attempt to back up his claim with data about deaths per capita misses the mark. In age-adjusted deaths per capita, Florida ranks 34th out of all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

This segment was sponsored by Liberty Mutual.

CNN’s At This Hour
03/03/2022
11:53 a.m. Eastern

KATE BOLDUAN: Mask mandates, as we all know, are going away across the country. But, still, there’s this moment with Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis. 

RON DESANTIS: You do not have to wear those masks. I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve got to stop with COVID theater. So, if you want to wear it, fine, but this is—this is– ridiculous. 

BOLDUAN: You may not have to, but the governor there scolding a group of high school students for exercising their right to wear a mask if they want to. CNN’s Steve Contorno, live in Florida with more on this. Steve, what do you think is going on? 

STEVE CONTORNO: Well, that video, Kate, went viral very quickly and Governor DeSantis is earning widespread criticism from Democrats for being a – they’re calling him a bully and hypocrite because he’s been all about mask choice. But the governor is not backing down. In fact, he’s doubling down, really. He tweeted out the video. He’s fundraising off of it and he’s just now giving a press conference where he is standing by his opposition to masks as we enter this next phase of this pandemic. And, really, we should talk about Florida’s history leading up to this moment and sort of what we’ve seen in this country as we enter the next phase of the pandemic. We have — we’re now coming up on almost 1 million coronavirus deaths across the U.S., which — with up to 1,800 people still dying almost every day. Florida recently surpassed 70,000 deaths and hundreds more are recorded every single week. And overall, Florida has the third most deaths in the country by state, trailing only Texas and California. Though, if you look at per capita deaths, Florida is actually doing far worse than those states and worse than the country overall. It’s also worth pointing out that this whole event yesterday that DeSantis was at took place in Hillsborough County. Hillsborough County still has a high risk of transmission for COVID right now as defined by the CDC, meaning, according to the CDC, they recommend you wear a mask indoors in that county at this time. Kate? 

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