Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to “fight” any attempt by the Biden administration and the federal government to institute its vaccine mandate on private businesses and individuals in the Sunshine State.
Speaking on Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a new sweeping plan to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including mandating vaccinations for all federal employees and government contractors. He also threatened businesses with fines of up to $14,000 per violation unless they require employees to get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests.
Responding to early reports of Biden’s plan ahead of the executive order, in a press conference where he promoted monoclonal antibodies to treat severe cases of the disease, DeSantis slammed the Biden administration’s move as being “fundamentally wrong” and vowed to protect the rights of Floridians.
“I could say the one thing that I'm concerned about is them trying to force mandates on individuals and businesses. How could we get to the point in the country where you would want to have someone lose their job because of their choice about the vaccine or not? I mean look, some folks have reasons to do, maybe they're making the wrong decision, but to put them out of work and send them and not let them earn a living because of this,” said the governor. “I just think that that's fundamentally wrong.”
DeSantis criticized Biden’s plan as being counterproductive to efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated, stating that education, rather than mandates, provide better results without trampling on the rights of Americans.
“And I think that the more and more this has become coercive, where people have threatened mandates and firing and business consequences, the more it does that, I think the more people it alienates,” he said. “I don't think it actually helps to get more people to ultimately do it, but I do not believe that people should lose their jobs over this issue, and we will fight that.”
“If they try to do that through a rule like the Department of Labor, I don’t think they have the legal authority to do that, but we obviously would want to support protections for people who are just trying to earn a living,” he added.
“The people that have had the higher vaccination rates in businesses have been ones that have had programs where they’re educating people, where they’re providing them all the information, showing some of the consequences,” DeSantis said. “I think forcing this and coercing people, I don’t think this is the right decision. So I’d imagine that you’re going to see a lot of activity in the courts if they try to do that through an executive action, I mean, Congress has never legislated this.”
“This would just be him doing it on his own, and that's not, I think the way to do it, but it's surprising that given what we, the numbers we've seen now in Florida with this downward trend that, that this early treatment, wasn't part of the six point plan because I think that this is something that clearly there was a deficit of knowledge of the federal government had not promoted this in any meaningful way or this whole year here we have now done it and people can talk about how they've done,” he concluded.
Biden’s six-point plan sparked a massive backlash among conservatives, libertarians, and others resistant to the mandate.
“There are still nearly 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten their first shot,” Biden’s plan states. “The President’s plan will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements — these requirements will become dominant in the workplace. In addition, the plan will provide paid time off for vaccination for most workers in the country.”
During his speech, Biden also attacked governors who banned mask mandates in schools, like in Florida and Texas. Part of Biden’s plan includes taking action against those governors that go against his bidding.
“We know how to keep students safe in schools by taking the right steps to prevent transmission — including getting all staff and eligible students vaccinated, implementing universal indoor masking, maintaining physical distancing, improving ventilation, and performing regular screening testing for students and school staff,” Biden’s plan says. “The President’s plan calls for additional actions to ensure all schools consistently implement these science-based prevention strategies recommended by the CDC so that they can remain open for in-person learning and maintain the health and safety of all students, staff, and families.”