What a difference a state makes! If you’re a kid in Florida you’re free to breathe the air without a mask and getting vaccinated is a choice your parents make, not your politicians. However, if you live in New York, you’re doomed to forever wearing a mask unless you get a shot, which is unavailable if you’re under age five. Maybe the air in Florida is cleaner.
While the climate in Florida is certainly more pleasant most of the year than in New York, the differences in these states’ Covid requirements have more to do with the color of their politicians – red v. blue.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo recently announced children ages 5-17 without underlying health conditions can forego Covid-19 vaccinations. “It is essential for health care practitioners to analyze existing data on the Covid-19 vaccine alongside parents when deciding to vaccinate children,” said Ladapo in a new release. “Based on currently available data, the risk of administering Covid-19 vaccination among health children may outweigh the benefits. That is why these decisions should be made on an individual basis, and never mandated.”
In New York City, they finally lifted its public-school mask mandate, but only with an exception. “The indoor mask mandate is still active for children in LYFE, EarlyLearn (infants and toddlers), 3-K, Pre-K, and 4410 classrooms,” the city’s Department of Education tweeted March 4. This means the city will continue to force masks on the segment of the population at lowest risk for Covid, children ages 2 to 4.
The ostensible reason for this policy is that children under 5 aren’t eligible for vaccination. New York Mayor Eric Adams explains, “People wanted to say, ‘Let’s lift it across the board,’ but that’s not what the science was showing us. I know some people are concerned. I would rather people complain against me, than losing my babies in our city.”
Karol Markowicz, writing in The Wall Street Journal, says the mayor is reduced to cheap emotional appeals because his position lacks logic. The New York State Health Department released a study last week that found “there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of the BNT162b2 vaccine on children, particularly those 5-11 years and after the Omicron variant’s emergence.” That describes the Pfizer vaccine, the only one approved for minors. Its effectiveness at preventing infection dropped to 12% for 5–11-year-olds during Omicron.
The mayor is leaning on the CDC, which is the only public health agency in the world to recommend masking toddlers in the first place. This age group is at almost no risk for contracting Covid and not a single study has found that masks help stop viral spread in this age group.
Drs. Marty Makary and H. Cody Meissner have reported in The Wall Street Journal there is no science to support the CDC guidelines on masking children. In fact, they report only one retrospective study even has addressed the question of whether masks reduce Covid transmission in children – and the results were inconclusive. They say the CDC recommendations are based on theory, rather than science.
More importantly, they say there are mask-related harmful effects in children including:
- Children with myopia have difficulty seeing due to fogging of their glasses
- Severe acne and other skin problems
- Distraction from learning due to mask discomfort
- Increased levels of carbon dioxide from airway resistance and rebreathing
- Lowered levels of oxygen for the same reasons
- Masks can be vectors for pathogens if they become moist or are used too long
By now the futility of mask mandates has been widely demonstrated and most states have eliminated them. Even New York is recognizing this for adults and older children. Making an exception for the least vulnerable population makes no sense at all.
The difference in these states is freedom of choice. In New York, politicians believe they should decide when people must be vaccinated or wear masks. In Florida, politicians believe that’s a choice best left up to individuals and their doctors. Maybe that difference accounts for why people are leaving states like New York in droves and moving to Florida.