Last year, the Florida Supreme Court granted Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate “criminal or wrongful activity” related to Covid mRNA shots.
More than a year later, the grand jury has just released its first report.
However, the body said that its probe is “nowhere near complete.”
Among other conclusions, the 33-page report notes that “lockdowns were not a good trade” and that “we have never had sound evidence of (masks’) effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”
The report also reveals that areas that followed the guidelines on lockdowns and vaccine mandates saw increased mortality rates.
“In a way, this Grand Jury has allowed us to do something that most Americans simply do not have the time, access, or wherewithal to do: Follow the science,” the report said.
Conclusions in the report on masks counter recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Democrat President Joe Biden’s CDC’s guidance says research shows masks are effective in stopping the spread of Covid.
As of late January, the federal health agency recommends that people with symptoms, people who have tested positive, and people who have been exposed to the virus should wear masks when indoors in public.
The report also discusses whether lockdowns, mask mandates, and social-distancing guidelines “had a significant impact on the overall risk” of Covid.
Among the body’s conclusions:
- Jurisdictions that enforced lockdowns “tended to end up with higher overall excess mortality.”
- “There have always been legitimate questions around the impracticality of individual adherence to mask recommendations, but once it became clear that the primary transmission vector of SARS-CoV-2 was via aerosol, their potential efficacy was further diminished.”
- Social distancing is not “nearly as important … as it is whether they are in an interior or exterior environment and whether that environment is subject to adequate airflow,” information that they said is still “missing from the CDC’s Social Distancing Guidelines.”
- Mask mandates, social distancing guidelines and shutdowns were “not administered based on the best available scientific data.”
- “In fact, many public health recommendations and their attendant mandates departed significantly from scientific research” that was available to everyone at the time.
The report said the grand jury talked with doctors, scientists, and professors “with a broad range of viewpoints.”
In an update on the CDC’s website on Thursday, the agency insists that its new data shows updated Covid mRNA injections were effective.
The agency still advises that everyone ages 6 months and older should get the updated 2023–24 Covid shots.
In Florida, there are 17.8 million people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, CDC data shows, about 83% of the state’s population.
About 70% completed the first series of vaccines.
Only about 12% of the state’s population has received an updated booster dose.
DeSantis and State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo routinely have voiced skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Ladapo in September advised people under the age of 65 against getting the new booster when it was approved.
In August, a University of South Florida/Florida Atlantic University public survey showed that notable numbers of Floridians believe that vaccines can cause DNA alterations or other severe health side effects, including sudden death.
DeSantis has time and again fought against the federal mandates that he and his voter base viewed as governmental overreach.
Florida’s policies under DeSanatis are widely viewed as a “pro-freedom” model on the subject.
In a news release in March 2023, marking three years since the start of the pandemic, DeSantis’ office criticized President Biden’s administration’s handling of the pandemic.
The statement touted Florida’s economic and tourism statistics.
In the statement, DeSantis said the federal measures were about “exercising control at the expense of the American economy and the American way of life.”
“It’s just important to say, the experts that designed these policies and that were hectoring everybody — they were wrong about almost everything,” DeSantis said at a March 16 news conference held in Polk County with Ladapo.
The report issued Friday emphasized that the grand jury is apolitical, diverse in ethnicity, gender, and politics, and has “no specific agenda with respect to these issues.”
Jurors summoned were from the Fifth, Sixth, Tenth, Twelfth, and Thirteenth Judicial Circuits, according to the report, and were randomly selected.
The body’s primary legal adviser is Statewide Prosecutor Nicholas B. Cox, who was appointed by Attorney General Ashley Moody and who has been overseeing the voter fraud cases moving through the courts since DeSantis announced the arrests of some 20 people in August 2022 for allegedly voting illegally.
The majority of registered voters in all but one of the 14 counties that make up those circuits are registered Republicans, according to Division of Elections records.
In a news release Friday evening, DeSantis’ office revealed that officials from the CDC, the FDA, and the U.S. Army refused to give testimony to the grand jury, putting “roadblocks” in the investigation.
Other potential witnesses chose not to testify, some “citing potential professional or personal consequences” from being involved with the investigation, the report said.
The grand jury explained that DeSantis’ involvement ended once he petitioned the state Supreme Court and that the body “is insulated from the influence of the political actors that caused us to be impaneled.”
“Occasionally, prospective witnesses have raised concerns about the underlying fairness of this body, which — for the reasons described above — we believe to be unfounded,” the report later said.
The Supreme Court’s order stated the grand jury can investigate “pharmaceutical manufacturers (and their executive officers) and other medical associations or organizations” involved in almost any way with the use of “vaccines purported to prevent COVID-19 infection, symptoms, and transmission.”
The order also said the grand jury could also look into “other criminal activity or wrongdoing that the statewide grand jury uncovers during the course of the investigation” or anything that’s part of an “organized criminal conspiracy.”
The report did not include any recommendations, but the grand jury could make some in future reports.
“The Statewide Grand Jury only has the power to recommend solutions; we cannot enact them,” the report said.
“It will be up to state legislators, federal lawmakers or even the people themselves to ensure that our efforts are not wasted.
“Moreover, we concur that if violations of Florida criminal law occurred with respect to COVID-19 vaccines, they must be addressed by the appropriate authorities.”
The grand jury remains in session and Cox is scheduling future witnesses to appear, the report said.
It was signed by Christopher C. Sabella, chief judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit.