A judge just struck down Gov. DeSantis' mask mandates ban, saying he didn't have the power to order it

·2 min read
Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis bill signing
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • A judge ruled that Gov. DeSantis' mask mandate ban was unconstitutional.

  • Schools may impose mask mandates for their districts, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper said.

  • The move comes after 10 Florida districts defied the governor and imposed mask mandates anyways.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A judge ruled that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority when he issued an executive order to ban mask mandates in the state, the Associated Press reported on Friday.

Schools may impose mask mandates, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper said, and agreed with parents who filed the lawsuit saying the mask ban was unconstitutional.

Cooper said DeSantis' order was "without legal authority," per the AP.

The governor argued his order gave parents the right to make the decision for their own children, but the judge said it also removed the government's authority to impose actions that are needed to protect public health.

Taryn Fenske, DeSantis' communications director, said in a statement that the governor will be appealing the court's decision to the First District Court of Appeals.

"This ruling was made with incoherent justifications, not based in science and facts - frankly not even remotely focused on the merits of the case presented," Fenske said.

Read more: Ron DeSantis, not Trump, is public enemy No. 1 for Democrats right now

DeSantis originally ordered the mask mandate ban in July. Since then, a number of Florida school districts have imposed their own mask mandates, defying the governor's order.

Florida's education department warned schools on August 20 that it would fine any school disobeying the order. With the new court order in place, the warning likely no longer applies as there's no longer a legal ban on mask mandates to follow.

As of Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that more than half of Florida students were enrolled in public schools that implemented mask mandates. At this point, 10 counties had ordered individual mask mandates for their districts.

COVID-19 cases are still surging in the state. Florida is averaging approximately 22,000 new cases per day, according to The New York Times' COVID-19 tracker. The state is also averaging about 242 coronavirus-related deaths per day.

Florida's health system is reeling to handle the surge in deaths, hospitalizations, and cases. One health system in Central Florida reportedly had to resort to renting refrigerated coolers to store the surplus of bodies.

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