DeSantis asks students in viral clip to take off masks, stop the 'covid theatre': 'This is ridiculous'

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at CPAC 2022

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told a group of high school students to take off their face masks and stop engaging in “Covid theater” in a clip that went viral on social media.

“You do not have to wear those masks,” the Florida Republican, who has been one of the nation’s most outspoken governors against mask and vaccine mandates, told students at the University of South Florida as he walked up to the podium to speak on Wednesday. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey DeSantis walk at Ocala International Airport in Ocala, Florida, Oct. 23, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
(REUTERS/Tom Brenner)

“Please take them off,” DeSantis continued. “Honestly, it’s not doing anything. We’ve gotta stop with this Covid theater. So if you wanna wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”

The clip immediately received reactions from conservatives on Twitter who praised the governor’s stance on masking.

“This is phenomenal,” Outkick.com founder Clay Travis tweeted. “Ron Desantis tells USF kids they don’t have to wear their masks because they don’t do anything and it’s time to stop with all the political theater.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 24, 2022.
(Fox News)

“This is the correct attitude toward mask wearing,” radio host and former CIA analyst Buck Sexton tweeted.

[email protected] is absolutely right,” former Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted. 

Many liberals on Twitter expressed frustration with the clip accusing the governor of berating the students which DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw told Fox News was not the case.

“The kids laughed after he said it,” Pushaw told Fox News. “They knew he wasn’t frustrated with them but with the peer pressure around masking in schools.”

“As the governor said, ‘You can wear them if you want,’” Pushaw added. “But there’s no evidence masks make any difference. That has been clear for a long time and the data informed our state official’s guidance.”

Ron DeSantis sat down with Fox News Digital in Tallahassee.

Pushaw continued, “Following Florida, CDC has even stopped recommending mask wearing for most Americans. After 2 years of mixed messages from health authorities and media, the governor wants to make sure everyone is aware of the facts and data now so they can feel free and comfortable without a mask.”

The CDC moved last week to loosen federal mask-wearing guidance for counties deemed to be at “low” or “medium” risk – including in schools.

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