Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly met with anti-maskers and vaccine skeptics days after telling Floridians to get vaccinated

·2 min read
Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • The Florida governor met with anti-maskers and vaccine skeptics on Monday, The Daily Beast reported.

  • It came days after he urged Floridians to get vaccinated.

  • Florida is currently being ravaged by the Delta coronavirus variant.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly met with vaccine skeptics and anti-maskers just days after urging residents in his state to get vaccinated, The Daily Beast reported.

DeSantis met with the group at the state Capitol in Tallahassee on Monday night, The Daily Beast reported. The group included Mark McDonald, a clinical psychiatrist who has suggested that people should acquire "natural immunity" from COVID-19 instead of receiving a vaccine, the outlet said.

Transcript of the meeting obtained by The Daily Beast showed that McDonald called his home state of California a "medical apartheid state" because officials have asked people to wear masks indoors.

In subsequent emails to The Daily Beast, McDonald railed against the vaccination of children against COVID-19, and also suggested that masks and vaccines "don't work."

While he insisted in a separate email that he was "not "anti-vaccine" in any sense," he has previously expressed skepticism towards vaccine efficacy against new strains of COVID-19, The Daily Beast said.

In a Facebook post on July 19, he wrote: "Yesterday just a statistic. Today major news. The experimental vaccines are INEFFECTIVE against the currently circulating non-deadly viral strains. So why are we still ordering everyone to get shots, rather than encourage natural immunity?"

DeSantis attended the meeting just days after he urged Floridians to sign up for vaccinations, The Daily Beast noted. He told a press conference last week: "If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero."

As of July 16, one in five cases of COVID-19 was happening in Florida alone as the highly infectious Delta variant ravages the state, a White House official said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said the rate of new COVID-19 cases in the state increased by 58% last week, and that every one of the state's counties was recording a "high level" of community transmission.

DeSantis' office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. His spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the governor has been "very clear and consistent in his messaging on COVID-19 vaccines" and is confident that they are "safe for most people and effective in preventing serious illness."

The spokesperson also noted that DeSantis remained against vaccine passports and mask mandates.

Earlier this month his campaign rolled out T-shirts and koozies reading "Don't Fauci My Florida" amid the soaring infections.

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