PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis is firing back a day after President Joe Biden shared his disapproval of Florida's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a heated display during a Wednesday press conference, the governor criticized Biden for singling out the state.
“Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID. This is a guy who ran for president saying he was gonna, quote, shut down the virus and what has he done? He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border," DeSantis said.
The Washington Post recently reported that surging COVID cases have less to do with the border and more so with unvaccinated people in the U.S.
DeSantis has long been vocal about his opposition to things like vaccine mandates among the state's population and mask mandates in schools. He's even signed legislation preventing such acts over the course of the pandemic.
It's a stance that opposes the view of the Biden administration and the federal government, including health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"...It's clear to me and to most of the medical experts that the decisions being made – like not allowing mask mandates in school and the like – are bad health policy," Biden said in response to a question.
Regardless of the president's views of how Florida is handling the virus, it appears DeSantis is doubling down on his approach.
“I think the question is we can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state. I can tell you, Florida we’re a free state. People are gonna be free to choose to make their own decisions about themselves, about their families, about their kid's education and about putting food on the table," he said.
The governor also noted that lockdowns are still off the table even as cases continue to surge across the state. On Tuesday, Florida reported 50,997 new cases of COVID-19 over the last three days to the CDC.
The state is also battling against a high transmission rate as a CDC map has all but one county lit up in red.
“Joe Biden suggests that if you don’t do lockdown policies, then you should, quote, get out of the way. Well, let me tell you this, if you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way. I’m not gonna let you get away with it," DeSantis said, in part. "If you’re trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way and I’m standing for the people of Florida."
To close, DeSantis had a message for our nation's leader before walking off:
“Why don’t you do your job, why don’t you get the border secure? Until you do that I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you," DeSantis said.