Ron DeSantis, Jen Psaki clash over Florida’s handling of mask mandates

Ron DeSantis, Jen Psaki clash over Florida’s handling of mask mandates
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
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Florida Man strikes back. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ office pilloried the Biden administration on Monday, following White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s false claims about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in his home state.

“Twenty percent of the cases we’re seeing are in Florida,” said Psaki at a press conference on Monday. “There are steps and precautions that can be taken, including encouraging people to get vaccinated, encouraging people to wear masks, including allowing schools to mandate masks and allowing kids to wear masks, which is not the current state of play in Florida.”

“So, you know, at a certain point, leaders are going to have to choose whether they’re going to follow public health guidelines or they’re going to follow politics and we certainly encourage all governors to follow the public health guidelines,” she added.

Psaki’s remarks came following DeSantis’ signing of an executive order allowing parents to choose whether their children will wear masks at school instead of allowing schools to mandate their wear. DeSantis, who has three young children, recently signed an executive order allowing parents to reject mask mandates and decide for their children whether it was in their childrens’ health to put on a mask. 

“By dismissively ignoring Governor DeSantis’ efforts to protect vulnerable Floridians, Psaki is the one playing politics with the pandemic,” DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw said in a statement to the Daily Wire

“The White House should be more concerned about the flip-flopping of the CDC, which is inadvertently promoting vaccine hesitancy with their confusing, contradictory public communications. Stating that vaccinated people should wear masks and socially distance is implying that the vaccines do not change anything, which is the wrong message for our federal government to be promoting,” said Pushaw. “Government mandates do not work to stop COVID-19. The empirical evidence supports his position on this.”

Pushaw gave the following examples to explain DeSantis’ reasoning:

  • In Texas, the state mask mandate was lifted March 2, 2021. COVID-19 cases declined significantly in the weeks and months after the mask mandate was lifted, and only recently did TX cases start to rise again. This has nothing to do with mask mandates and appears more likely to be a seasonal surge.
  • In California, a state mask mandate was imposed June 19, 2020. After several months of mandatory masking, in December 2020, COVID-19 cases in California began to surge, reaching a single-day record on January 5, 2021 (74,000 cases reported).
  • Florida never had a statewide mandate, but some counties were enforcing mask mandates last year. Counties in Florida that imposed mask mandates last year did not demonstrate significantly better COVID-19 outcomes, in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, than counties that had no mask mandates.

Additionally, Pushaw highlighted the fact that DeSantis and the Department of Health in Florida have been fully supportive of the science, encouraging the state’s elderly population to get the shot. The governor has attended over 50 vaccine-specific events in 27 counties around the state.

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