Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ripped President Biden Wednesday, accusing the White House of trying to implement a “biomedical security state” and warning that “I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID” until the administration’s border policy changes.
DeSantis was scheduled to deliver remarks on Florida’s economy at an event in Panama City, but instead unleashed a four-and-a-half-minute diatribe against the president, accusing him of trying to “single out” Florida over its rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“This is a guy who ran for president saying he was gonna ‘shut down the virus’. And what has he done?” DeSantis asked. “He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border“.
“I can tell you, whatever variants are around the world, they’re coming across that southern border,” the governor added. “And so, he’s not shutting down the virus, he’s helping to facilitate it in our country.”
DeSantis then turned his ire on the CDC’s recommendation that masks be worn in all K-12 schools by students, teachers, staff and visitors.
“I can tell you in Florida, the parents are going to be the ones in charge of that decision,” he said.
DeSantis’ refusal to institute mask or vaccine mandates is a sore point with the administration, which has repeatedly pointed out this week that one-third of all new coronavirus cases have occurred in Florida and Texas — both states with prominent GOP governors who are considered potential White House contenders in 2024.
“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,” Biden said Tuesday in response to pushback against mask and vaccine mandates. “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. Use your power to save lives.”
On Wednesday, DeSantis accused Biden of wanting to copy New York’s sweeping vaccine mandate, in which “restaurants should ban young kids from being able to go in because they’re not eligible for vaccination, and law-abiding citizens have to produce proof of their medical records just to go to the gym or attend an event, or just to participate in everyday society.
“He wants that, but yet if you want to vote, he thinks it’s too much of a burden to show a picture ID when you’re voting,” the governor went on. “So no voter ID, but you have to show your medical papers just to be able to live an everyday life? Give me a break.”
DeSantis added that America faces a choice between being a “free society, or we can have a biomedical security state. And I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state.”
The governor closed with a warning to the administration: “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 deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m gonna stand in your way and I’m gonna stand up for the kids in Florida. If you’re trying to restrict people, impose mandates, if you’re trying to ruin their jobs and their livelihoods and their small business, 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.”
DeSantis’ fiery rhetoric drew a response from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who tweeted: “23% of new COVID hospitalizations in the U.S are in Florida, and their hospitals are being overwhelmed again.
“We are doing everything we can to help the people of FL, and they’re stepping up by getting vaccinated – we hope @GovRonDeSantis joins us in this fight,” she added.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) shot back in defense of DeSantis.
“You want to help #Florida?” he asked. “Stop sparking fights over mask mandates & pushing contradictory courses of action. Thankfully vaccinations are up[.] But that’s in spite, not because of the Biden administration.”
Driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, Florida hit 12,408 hospitalized patients on Wednesday, breaking last year’s record for the third straight day and up from 1,000 in June.
At a news conference in Miami Tuesday, DeSantis predicted that the number of hospitalizations would fall off in the coming weeks, attributing the spike in cases to state residents spending more time indoors to escape the summer’s heat and humidity.