Ron DeSantis Says Making the Vaccinated Wear Masks Sends Message Vaccines Don't Work

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis thinks that reinstituting mask mandates regardless of vaccination status will dissuade those still unvaccinated from getting the COVID-19 shot.

As vaccination rates rose, states lifted restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, including the requirement that everyone wears masks in public spaces. However, with the rising number of Delta variant cases, Los Angeles and Las Vegas reinstated the recommendation that even vaccinated individuals wear a mask indoors and governors have warned that if cases continue to rise, they'll reinstate the mandate.

"I get a little bit frustrated by jurisdictions that are saying even if you're healthy and vaccinated you must wear a mask because we're seeing increased cases," DeSantis said on Wednesday. "Understand what that message is sending to people who aren't vaccinated, it's telling them that the vaccines don't work. I think that's the worst message you can send to people at this time."

About 66 percent of Floridians have been vaccinated against COVID-19, just shy of the national average of about 68 percent. Vaccines have proven to be effective against the Delta variant, the vast majority of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths nationwide have involved people who aren't vaccinated.

Given that the data shows that vaccinated individuals will largely be protected against a new wave of infections, DeSantis said that was the "important" message to push on unvaccinated individuals.

ron desantis vaccine covid mask mandate
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he's "frustrated" by mask mandates for vaccinated individuals because it sends the message that vaccines don't work. Here, DeSantis takes part in a roundtable discussion about the uprising in Cuba on July 13, 2021, in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Polls showed an estimated one-third of people weren't interested in being vaccinated against COVID-19 and officials have warned that people making the choice not to get vaccinated could allow the virus to spread and mutations to form that escape the vaccine. It also hurts America's chance at reaching herd immunity, meaning those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons won't be protected against COVID-19.

DeSantis, who has been vaccinated, acknowledged that people have different reasons for not wanting to be inoculated. However, he didn't see the government "hectoring" them as a productive means of convincing them to get vaccinated.

"I think these are folks who have skepticism of authorities," DeSantis said. "I don't think most of them think COVID is a hoax...but as you're trying to reach some of these folks I think it's important to be honest about the risks of COVID."

A Yahoo/YouGov poll released Tuesday found the most common reason people aren't getting vaccinated is that they don't "trust" the vaccine. That mistrust was largely being fueled by the possibility of side effects, the vaccines being "too new" and, as DeSantis suspected, a distrust of the government.

The poll confirmed DeSantis' belief that access wasn't an issue and only four percent of respondents said they weren't getting vaccinated because it wasn't easily accessible. The next most common response aside from "not sure" and "other" was that people weren't worried about getting COVID-19.

One in five people who were hesitant to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in January were vaccinated by June, according to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. A common response, when asked what persuaded them to get vaccinated, was that they saw their friends or family be vaccinated and not experience significant side effects. Others said their friends and family or health care providers convinced them to get vaccinated.