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Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has urged residents of his state to take the coronavirus vaccine, despite being a virulent opponent of pandemic mitigation efforts like lockdowns and face mask mandates.
This week, Mr DeSantis called on Floridians to take the coronavirus vaccine.
"If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero ... These vaccines are saving lives," he said during a press conference.
Coronavirus cases in the state have spiked over the past week, doubling among the state's unvaccinated population. An estimated one in five new Covid cases are coming out of Florida.
The announcement is a break from Mr DeSantis' usual resistance to coronavirus mitigation efforts.
As early as this week Mr DeSantis downplayed the rising number of cases in the state, brushing the numbers off as simple the result of the coronavirus being a seasonal virus.
“It’s a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern it follows in the Sun Belt states,” he said.
Mr DeSantis has made his resistance to federal intervention in Florida a selling point for his re-election, even offering "Don't Fauci My Florida" merchandise on beer koozies and t-shirts through his official campaign team.
Last year Mr DeSantis faced scrutiny after an investigation published by the South Florida Sun Sentinel found the state had concealed the true number of coronavirus cases and "suppressed unfavorable facts, dispensed dangerous misinformation, dismissed public health professionals, and promoted the views of scientific dissenters”.
Mr DeSantis waved the allegations away as "all political”.
Despite his resistance to policies that might have hurt businesses in the state, Mr DeSantis has been generally supportive of the vaccine, though he opposes measures like vaccine passports or businesses requiring patrons to be vaccinated before using their services.
In Florida, the governor has the power to override local coronavirus mandates. In May, he issued an executive order ending all local Covid-19 restrictions, mandates and emergency orders affecting businesses.
Because the buck ultimately stops with the governor, Mr DeSantis' push for Floridians to take the coronavirus vaccine may be an admission that he will ultimately be responsible if the number of cases in his state continues to rise.