Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has been a consistent critic of heavy-handed state restrictions in the name of COVID safety. He had the opportunity to call out the White House this week for twisting his policy position as governor of Florida and a leader in the Republican party for cheap political points.
On August 2, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took a passive-aggressive shot at DeSantis, claiming that he placed politics above public health. She said that the Biden administration was prepared to provide COVID assistance to “Florida or any other part of the country.”
Psaki noted the number of cases reported in Florida recently and inaccurately stated that Florida policy prohibits children from wearing masks in schools. Mask-wearing is optional everywhere in Florida, including schools. No students there are prohibited from wearing masks or other PPE.
The Florida governor’s office responded by stating that every parent in Florida has the freedom to decide if their children will wear masks at school. The response also pointed out that Gov. DeSantis has held dozens of public events dedicated to urging all eligible Floridians to get vaccinated.
Last week, DeSantis issued an executive order protecting parents’ freedom to decide whether their children wear masks. The order included a directive to ensure that school mandates do not violate citizens’ constitutional rights or parents’ control over their children’s health care decisions.
DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw stated that by being dismissive of the governor’s efforts to get people vaccinated and misstating the state’s official policy regarding masks, the White House is playing politics against a strong opponent.
She added that the Biden administration should be more concerned about national issues in their backyard, including the mixed messaging from the CDC about whether vaccinated people should wear masks and practice social distancing. According to Pushaw, the implication is that vaccination has no effect, which is the “wrong message for our federal government to be promoting.”