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'Not an appropriate thing to do': Fauci takes aim at DeSantis' refusal to mandate masks in schools

The comment comes on the heels of a heated back-and-forth between Gov. DeSantis and President Biden over COVID-19 protocols.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — President Joe Biden isn't the only one questioning Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

During an interview Tuesday with 10 Tampa Bay, Dr. Anthony Fauci briefly commented on the Republican governor's executive order ensuring parents can choose if their kids wear masks.

“Well, I’m not gonna say anything directly to Governor DeSantis cause he doesn’t ask me and he obviously has a campaign against me, as you well know, with his T-shirts and his mugs," Fauci said. "So, I’m not gonna get involved with Governor DeSantis, except to say, that it as public health doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to do everything you can to protect children, to do something that would interfere with the protection of the children.”

The nation's top infectious disease expert also added that his sentiment can be applied to all states but that DeSantis' actions, from a public health standpoint, were "not an appropriate thing to do."

RELATED: 'That's really bad news': Fauci finds low vaccination rates leaves Florida vulnerable to COVID-19

Fauci's comments come on the heels of a spirited back-and-forth between DeSantis and Biden. Things between the two came to a head when Biden criticized DeSantis' recent response to surging COVID cases and record hospitalizations in the Sunshine state.

"...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 first said.

A day later, DeSantis, in a heated display, responded to the singling out of the state he leads.

RELATED: 'Doesn’t make sense': Fauci says of DeSantis’ COVID policies around children and schools

“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."

A returning quip of "governor who?" from Biden didn't ease the tension between the two leaders with DeSantis firing back one last time in support of his no lockdown approach.

You can watch the full interview with Fauci below: