The Republican, who is widely considered a top potential contender in the 2024 presidential race, spoke at a conservative policy conference in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, delivering a shot across the bow of the Biden administration's urgent plea to U.S. residents, regardless of vaccination status, to don face coverings in areas with high concentrations of new infections, as well as students, teachers, and staff returning to schools in person next month.
“Did you not get the CDC’s memo? I don’t see you complying," DeSantis told a crowd of 450 people, most of whom were not wearing masks.
“It is very important that we say unequivocally no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions, and no to mandates," the Republican governor added.
The White House blamed unvaccinated people for the shift in guidance on Tuesday. The CDC has to adapt to the coronavirus, including its more contagious delta variant, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said.
DeSantis and other Republicans have taken particular issue with the CDC's guidance on students wearing face coverings ahead of schooling in the fall.
"Forcing kids to wear masks is bad policy," he wrote in a Wednesday tweet. "Parents are best equipped to decide whether they want their kids to wear a mask in school. Neither bureaucrats in Washington nor local authorities should be able to override the decision of the parents."
However, DeSantis pushed Florida residents to receive the vaccine last week, saying that the doses were "saving lives."
"So here’s, I think, the most important thing with the data: If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero,” the governor said in St. Petersburg, Florida. “If you look at the people who are being admitted to hospitals, over 95% of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.”
A total of 49% of the state's population is fully vaccinated, while 57% have received at least one dose. Over the last two weeks, Florida has seen a 124% increase in cases, a 123% jump in hospitalizations, and a 44% uptick in virus-related deaths.
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Original Author: Jake Dima