A day after Joe Biden told him to "get out of the way" when it came to resisting COVID-19 rules, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back at the president, vowing to fight any federal mandates on vaccinations or masks in schools and accusing the administration of letting the virus spread by allowing migrants into the country at the southern border.
Speaking at a news conference in Panama City Wednesday, DeSantis said Biden was trying to "single out" Florida over COVID-19.
"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," DeSantis said. "People are gonna be free to choose to make their own decisions about themselves, about their families, about their kids' education and about putting food on the table."
On Tuesday, Biden criticized DeSantis and other Republican governors for not mandating lockdowns and other measures aimed at containing the delta strain of the COVID-19 virus. Florida has seen hospitalization rates spike in recent days as more delta cases are confirmed.
“If you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way of people trying to do the right thing," Biden said.
On Wednesday, DeSantis was defiant in response to Biden's suggestion.
"Joe Biden suggests that if you don't do lockdown policies then you should quote 'get out the way,'" DeSantis said. "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 gonna let you get away with it."
The governor also called out Biden over mask mandates in schools. Last Friday, DeSantis issued an executive order ordering school districts not to mandate the use of masks or they could risk losing state funding. Some school districts have already said they will defy the governor's order.
"What is his big solution, what is he so upset about Florida? His solution is he wants to have the government force kindergarteners to wear masks in school. He doesn't believe the parents should have a say in that," DeSantis said. "He thinks that should be a decision for the government. I can tell you in Florida, the parents are gonna be the ones in charge of that decision."
DeSantis also accused Biden of "rejecting science" over support of vaccine passports.
"Biden, he rejects science because he denies the fact that people that recover from Covid have long-lasting immunity and that's been proven time and time again and the data's very clear, so his vision is just like in New York City, 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," DeSantis said. "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."
DeSantis' harshest comments came when discussing the southern border, which he claims is "wide open."
"This is a guy who ran for president saying he was gonna quote '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," DeSantis said. "And it's not just from Mexico, in fact it's rarely from Mexico. You have over 100 different countries where people are pouring through. Not only are they letting them through, they're then farming them out all across our communities across this country, putting them on planes, buses, do you think they're being worried about Covid for that? Of course not."
DeSantis said Biden's border policies are facilitating the spread of the COVID-19 variants.
"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 said.
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