As we approach our third year of living with the coronavirus, it may be easy to believe that it has completely passed us by. Unfortunately, this is not at all true as cases in Florida do still exist.
Although COVID-19 may still be around, many mandates have been lifted, leading some students on campus to ditch their masks. However, this is not the case for all students as some prefer to stay masked up. As for Melanie Smith, a Florida A&M University graduate, this was the case exactly.
“I personally choose to wear a mask because I’m not vaccinated, and because COVID has made me realize how nasty people can be,” Smith said.
Despite Smith’s ability to follow her own path, the current circumstances are in jeopardy of staying exactly the way they are as Gov. Ron DeSantis stands firm in his skepticism of COVID-19 mitigation efforts and petitioned for a permanent change.
Last Tuesday in Panama City, DeSantis announced a proposal to Florida lawmakers requesting to permanently ban mandates on COVID-19 vaccines and masks. Although DeSantis had mandates lifted in 2021, contrary to what the Biden administration and the CDC felt would reduce the spread of COVID-19 at the time, he is now seeking to ensure the measures stay in place to protect the state of Florida from the “biomedical security state,” and their “medical freedom of speech,” according to theguardian.com.
If this proposal is approved by Florida lawmakers, it will permanently prohibit COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates in schools as well as in the workplace making it so that employers cannot be discriminated against based on their vaccine status.
Although Smith may not be on the same page as DeSantis when it comes to masks, she is not completely against his proposal based on her own experiences.
“I’m going to wear a mask regardless because it’s my body, my health, and my choice. However, it is great that vaccines wouldn’t be mandated though, and people aren’t forced to get one for their jobs,” Smith said. “That actually hindered me going back to my other job after the COVID lockdown. I would’ve had to get both vaccinations just to go back to a job that I had before COVID.”
Other concepts that were included in DeSantis’ proposal were to permanently prohibit COVID-19 vaccine passports as well as mask requirements in both businesses and throughout the state.
Although current CDC recommendations include staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and wearing masks in certain situations, as stated on the CDC website, DeSantis is assured in his proposal which should come as no surprise considering his previous efforts to discredit the CDC.
Although FAMU’s campus and its students will be directly affected by DeSantis’ proposal, if approved, Smith feels the school will not bear the brunt of its affects.
“I don’t think much would change with FAMU,” Smith said. “Most of the student body are vaccinated and don’t wear masks anyway.”