FACT CHECK: Did Ron DeSantis Pose For A Photo Holding Up This Anti-Mask Shirt?

Ryan King | Contributor

An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holding up an orange “Your mask is as useless as Joe Biden” t-shirt.

Verdict: False

The image has been digitally altered. In the original photo, the shirt said, “I went to Popeyes for the new chicken sandwich and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

Fact Check:

The image of DeSantis smiling while appearing to hold up the “Your mask is as useless as Joe Biden” t-shirt has circulated on social media in recent days. However, the photo is doctored. (RELATED: Did Ron DeSantis Not Give A Press Conference About The Surfside Condo Collapse Before June 29?)

DeSantis posted the original picture on his verified Twitter account back in September 2019. In the unaltered picture, the orange shirt sports the words: “I went to Popeyes for the new chicken sandwich and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

“Great to visit the HQ for @PopeyesChicken and @BurgerKing in Miami,” DeSantis wrote in the tweet. “I’ve been looking for the elusive chicken sandwich, but the stores are still out. Maybe it’s time to issue an executive order requiring all Popeyes in Florida to re-stock them ASAP??”

A schedule available on the Florida governor’s website shows DeSantis visited the Miami office of Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Popeyes, on Sept. 27, 2019. The News Service of Florida also reported on his visit at the time. The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 first emerged in late 2019, according to The New York Times.

DeSantis did not, according to the Washington Post, issue a statewide mask mandate last year, though he did institute a lockdown in April 2020. In May, he signed an executive order suspending local COVID-19 rules for individuals and businesses, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Friends of Ron DeSantis, the governor’s political committee, recently started selling merchandise such as “Don’t Fauci My Florida” t-shirts and “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?” beer koozies, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. None of the merchandise for sale matches the t-shirt in the photoshopped image.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends for individuals ages 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated to wear masks in public indoor spaces to help protect against COVID-19. Fully vaccinated individuals “can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” according to the CDC website.

Ryan King