Florida’s governor is sounding off about President Joe Biden’s criticism of his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, even as his state is shattering hospitalization records.
Ron DeSantis responded to several comments from both Mr Biden and members of the White House press team, who have aimed criticism at his state and others where rates of Covid-19 are surging and vaccination rates are low.
“Joe Biden has taken to himself to single out Florida over Covid-19,” Mr DeSantis claimed at a news conference, according to local media.
Joining a chorus of Republicans who have sought to link higher migration levels at the US-Mexico border to a surge of new infections, despite being nowhere near it, Mr DeSantis declared: “I don’t want to hear a blip about Covid” from the president until he “gets the border secure”.
His comments come as Florida on Wednesday broke its record for hospitalizations related to Covid-19 for the fourth day in a row. The number of new Covid-19 cases slightly dropped, but single-day totals remain far higher than previous waves endured by the state.
More than 12,000 people were hospitalised in Florida with Covid-19 as of Wednesday, threatening the state’s hospital systems with an overwhelming number of patients. In some states, hospitals are once again beginning to cancel elective procedures in efforts to divert resources to Covid-19 care.
President Joe Biden addressed Florida’s situation directly during a national address detailing the nation’s fight against Covid-19 on Tuesday, while he and other administration officials have urges state leaders who they say are not helping end the pandemic to “get out of the way”.
“Florida and Texas account for one-third of all new Covid-19 cases in the entire country. Just two states. Look, we need leadership from everyone. If some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it,” said Mr Biden during his address, before adding to Mr DeSantis and Texas Gov Gregg Abbott without naming them: “I say to these governors: please help. If you aren’t going to help, please get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing”.
Mr DeSantis responded on Wednesday by doubling down on his support for stopping school districts from implementing mask mandates for students.
“If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way. If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m gonna stand in your way and stand up for the kids in Florida. If you’re trying to restrict people and impose mandates and ruin their jobs and livelihood, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way. I am standing for the people of Florida,” said the governor.