Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back at targeted messaging from the White House on Aug. 4, telling President Joe Biden that he’s “standing in your way.”
Biden and officials in his administration have repeatedly singled out Florida recently, noting that COVID-19 cases there account for a significant portion of the new cases across the country.
“The escalation of cases is particularly concentrated in states with low vaccination rates. Just two states, Florida and Texas, account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country. Just two states,” Biden said at an Aug. 3 press conference.
“Look, we need leadership from everyone. And if some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it. I say to these governors, ‘Please, help.’ But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing.”
Governors in some states, including DeSantis, have issued orders prohibiting vaccine passports, which would require residents to show proof of vaccination in order to enter certain establishments, as well as mask mandates.
Asked about Biden’s comments, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Aug. 4 that “there are leaders who are not stepping up and are getting in the way of the American people—companies and others—who are trying to save lives and stop the spread of Delta,” a variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
DeSantis responded at a briefing in Florida, noting that while campaigning, Biden vowed to “shut down the virus.”
“And what has he done? He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border. You have hundreds of thousands of people pouring across every month,” he said.
The number of illegal border crossings has increased every month since Biden took office, reaching a 20-year high in July, according to preliminary numbers. Officials in border cities have said COVID-19-positive illegal immigrants are being released by federal officials.
“He rejects science, because he denies the fact that people that recover from COVID have long-lasting immunity,” he said.
Federal health agencies acknowledge the science behind post-recovery immunity, but say people who recover should still get a COVID-19 vaccine, claiming that doing so provides additional protection.
DeSantis has received criticism from state officials as well, including Nikki Fried, the Florida agriculture commissioner. They allege that he isn’t doing enough to prevent the spread of the virus, as hospitalizations and cases jump.
DeSantis has said the virus is seasonal and he expects the metrics to drop soon, while noting that deaths have remained low. On Aug. 4, he said people can make their own decisions about what precautions to take.
“I think the question is, we can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state, and I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state,” he said, contrasting the lack of statewide measures with New York, where officials this week announced that vaccine passports will be required to enter some businesses.
“Joe Biden suggests that if you don’t do lockdown policies, then you should ‘get out of the way.’ But let me tell you this, if you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way. I’m not going to let you get away with it.
“If you’re trying to ruin their jobs and their livelihoods and their small businesses, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way, and I’m standing for the people of Florida. So why don’t you do your job? Why don’t you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.”