Thursday, October 07, 2021

Surgeon General/DOH Feud With Nikki Fried Over COVID Masking

The Florida Department of Health issued a press statement this afternoon alleging Florida's Ag Commissioner released misinformation about school COVID masking, infection risks and rates.

The DOH said in part:

Today, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Nikki Fried, released misinformation regarding school data that lacks epidemiological accuracy and credibility. The Florida Department of Health, the State's public health agency and lead on all infectious disease control, welcomes the opportunity to debunk a multitude of issues found during the seven minute, thirty second presentation on inaccurate data representation.

There is no evidence that schools are high risk locations of spread. A study supported by CDC and completed by the State Epidemiologist, alongside the State Surgeon General and other top experts at the Department of Health, found that fewer than 1% of students had school-related COVID-19.

Second, a brief data quality check revealed several calculation errors, which include a critical error in the inaccurate estimate of average cases per capita, which were then used as the basis for their analysis.

Additionally, the data set is not complete or representative of the entire state. This results in false interpretation of data. Further review of the data by a qualified epidemiologist should have occurred prior to publication.

The DOH claime the following are myths, adding lawyer-like arguments to 
prove their case: 

(Editor: we have omitted those detailed DOH arguments noting that many national experts disagree with Florida's school COVID masking policies and opinions of the Governor and newly appointed Surgeon General)

DOH claimed the following were false from Nikki Fried's announcement:

1. This data shows clear evidence that school districts requiring masks resulted in up to seven times lower COVID-19 cases per capita than school districts that did not require masks.

2. 22 school districts that required masks saw fewer COVID-19 total cases per capita than those that did not.

3. Five largest school districts had average 0.48 peak cases per capita, while five smallest school districts had 3.51 peak cases per capita.

4. Seven times higher student COVID-19 peak cases per capita in the smallest school districts, without mask requirements, than in the largest school districts, where masks were required.

5. 600 times higher peak cases per capita in maskless Highlands County (12 cases per capita) than in masked Miami-Dade and Broward Counties (0.02 cases per capita).

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