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Gov. DeSantis fires back after Jen Psaki spreads misinformation about Florida face-mask policy in schools

Gov. Ron DeSantis (left) (Joe Raedle/Getty Images), Jen Psaki (right) (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

The office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) fired back at White House press secretary Jen Psaki late Monday after she outright mischaracterized his guidance for face masks inside Florida schools.

What did Psaki say?

During the daily White House press briefing, Psaki made the bold assertion that DeSantis has been prioritizing politics over public health, referring to his refusal to implement a face-mask mandate for Florida schoolchildren.

Specifically, Psaki falsely claimed that DeSantis is not allowing students to wear face masks.

"I will note, as you touched on there, 20% of the cases we're seeing are in Florida. There are steps and precautions that can be taken, including encouraging people to get vaccinated, encouraging people to wear masks, including allowing schools to mandate masks, and allowing kids to wear masks, which is not the current state of play in Florida," Psaki said.

"So, you know, at a certain point, leaders are going to have to choose whether they're going to follow public health guidelines or they're going to follow politics, and we certainly encourage all governors to follow the public health guidelines," she added.

But what is the truth?

Contrary to Psaki's claim, DeSantis is allowing children to wear face masks in schools. However, unlike in many cities and states being led by Democrats, DeSantis said, from the standpoint his office, that any decision about face masks should rest on parents.

In fact, DeSantis signed an executive order last week to protect "the rights of parents" to make such decisions.

The executive order, in part, directed the Florida Department of Health and Florida Department of Education to ensure that safety protocols in schools neither "violate Floridians' constitutional freedoms" nor "violate parents' right under Florida law to make health care decisions for their minor children."

What was the response?

DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw pushed back in a statement, saying that it is Psaki, in fact, who is playing politics by misrepresenting DeSantis' policy.

"By dismissively ignoring Governor DeSantis' efforts to protect vulnerable Floridians, Psaki is the one playing politics with the pandemic," Pushaw said, Fox News reported.

"The White House should be more concerned about the flip-flopping of the CDC, which is inadvertently promoting vaccine hesitancy with their confusing, contradictory public communications," she added. "Stating that vaccinated people should wear masks and socially distance is implying that the vaccines do not change anything, which is the wrong message for our federal government to be promoting."

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