Physicians group poll finds strong support for masks in schools

Florida Politics | By Scott Powers | September 16, 2021

The survey also includes push-poll style questions critical of Ron DeSantis.

A new poll commissioned by the Committee to Protect Health Care finds strong support for mask mandates in schools and opposition to Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ policies.

The committee is an organization of doctors that has been allied with Democrats since forming in 2016 to oppose Donald Trump and has been strongly critical of DeSantis’ policies. Its new poll found 73% of Florida voters say local school districts should be allowed to implement mask mandates, while just 25% oppose such measures.

The poll also found 52% of Florida voters disapproving of DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 45% approve.

“We commissioned this poll to see if DeSantis’ policies are as unpopular as we know they are dangerous, and the results couldn’t be more clear: When three-fourths of Florida voters say local school districts should be allowed to implement universal masks to prevent children, teachers, school staff and their loved ones from getting sick, that’s a resounding message that Gov. DeSantis is at odds with Floridians,” Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami cardiologist and Florida state lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, said in a news release Thursday.

The committee’s Florida chapter commissioned Data for Progress of San Francisco to conduct the web-based poll of 753 likely Florida voters Aug. 27-Aug.31. Pollsters say it has a 4-point margin of error.

Among findings:

— 60% said they were “very concerned” about the delta variant of COVID-19, and 32% said they were “somewhat concerned.” Only 8% said they were not concerned.

— 50% said they believed Indoor mask usage should be required by the government in all public places, and 14% said they believed masks should be required only in places where there is a COVID-19 outbreak. Otherwise, 26% said masks should not be required by the government, but should be encouraged, and 10% said mask usage should not be encouraged by the government.

— 73% said school districts should be allowed to require masks, while 25% said school districts should not have that power.

— 29% strongly approve of how DeSantis has been handling the COVID-19 crisis and 16% somewhat approve, while 12% somewhat disapprove, and 40% strongly disapprove.

“We hope that Gov. DeSantis will now listen to the majority of Floridians and turn his approach to this pandemic around,” said Dr. Mona Mangat, an allergist and immunologist in St. Petersburg and board member for the Committee to Protect Health Care. “Like me and the vast majority of medical professionals, Floridians are rightfully concerned that Gov. DeSantis is needlessly putting children’s lives at risk”

The survey also included several push-poll style questions about whether certain factors would cause people to vote against DeSantis, revealing strong anti-DeSantis bias with references to wealthy donors, anti-vaccine paranoia, and dictator-like behavior. Those questions have included some inflammatory statements that, when made by others, have led DeSantis’ communications office to push back with fury.

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