PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis clapped back at President Joe Biden’s comments on Florida’s response to the state’s current surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, saying “I am standing in your way” in regards to mandates.
During a news conference Wednesday in Panama City, the governor addressed Biden’s comments the previous day that Republican governors should “get out of the way” of vaccine rules that are aimed to help contain the coronavirus delta variant. Biden criticized DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other officials who have moved to block the reimposition of mask mandates.
“If you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way of people trying to do the right thing,” Biden said.
Florida has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, breaking the state record for COVID-19 hospitalizations by reaching 11,515 hospitalized patients on Tuesday. Despite the surge, DeSantis has said “we are not shutting down” and he expects the number of hospitalizations to subside in the next couple of weeks.
The governor reiterated during Wednesday’s news conference that Florida is a free state and parents have the right to make their own decisions about themselves, their families and the education of their children.
“If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way. I’m not going to let you get away with it,” DeSantis said. “If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m going to stand in your way.”
DeSantis also called out Biden and claimed the president has “imported more virus from around the world by having a wide open southern border.” The governor committed state law enforcement resources in June to help support Texas and Arizona’s efforts to secure the U.S. border, calling it a “disaster and an emergency.”
Florida also filed a federal lawsuit challenging immigration-enforcement decisions by the Biden administration.
The governor called on Biden to secure the border, saying until the president does, then “I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.”
The news conference followed a virtual roundtable DeSantis held earlier in the day, with hospital CEOs discussing COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases.