Fact-checking claims by speakers at Lee County school board meeting

On Monday, taxpayers and parents showed up to the Lee County School Board meeting to voice their opposition to the district’s mask mandate.

Protesters got into shouting matches and accused the school district of not caring for their kids.

On Tuesday, there is another meeting, but masks are not on the agenda.

Those who spoke during public comment called the school board “tyrants” and accused them of supporting sex trafficking.

Other parents disputed that masks were effective at stemming the spread of COVID-19.

Only one person, a doctor, made it to the podium to speak in support of the mandate.

Parents and taxpayers may believe they are saying and doing the right thing, but those who speak at school meetings more often than not do not stick to the facts.

The mission is to fact-check. WINK News spoke with Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at the University of Florida to fact-check speakers.

Claim: 

“Studies have said you have a 26% decrease in your immune system when you put that mask on. What is going to happen to our children? Maybe the reason we have people in the hospitals is all this mask-wearing! Did we ever think of that?”

Fact: 

“There’s no evidence that masks have any negative impact on our immune system. Of course, doctors and nurses and others in the medical field have worn masks for years and they have fine immune systems. I’m not sure where that number came from,” Rasmussen said.

Claim:  

“Those negative effects include lowered oxygen levels, impeded breathing, increase in headaches, decreased blood oxygen to the levels of the brain, adverse skin reactions, yeast infections, dental issues, mouth fungus, bacterial and fungal infections, and yes even ear protrusions.”

Fact: 

“There’s really no evidence that masks are causing those kinds of problems for kids,” Rasmussen said.

Claim: 

“Hawaii has a statewide mask mandate; their hospitalizations are up 2,000%. Rhode Island is the #1 state per capita with the highest caseload.”

Fact: 

According to the CDC, Hawaii hospitalizations are up 250% in the last month. Still, Florida’s hospitalizations per capita are more than double Hawaii’s.

As for Rhode Island, that state hit its peak in January. Since vaccine rollout, that state has consistently seen lower cases per capita than Florida.

Many people claimed there were no studies that show masks worked, but Dr. Rasmussen said there are several including one from the Florida Surgeon General. 

For more information: 

Johns Hopkins COVID-19 portal which tracks cases

CDC’s COVID data tracker

CDC’s U.S. COVID-19 cases, deaths, and laboratory testing by state, territory and jurisdiction

CDC’s COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
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