WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — President Biden shared his disapproval of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' recent handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the state is experiencing a surge in cases and hospitalizations.
During a news conference on the latest U.S. strategy to slow the spread of the virus, the president was asked if DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were making decisions that harmed their own citizens.
The Florida governor has been a very vocal critic of lockdowns and mask mandates, signing legislation throughout the year that limits the ability of local governments to enforce coronavirus protocols. Just recently, DeSantis signed an executive order that made sure parents could choose if their children would wear masks in schools.
"...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 the question.
In response to the president's comments, a spokesperson for DeSantis said the governor was making "data-driven" decisions.
"The CDC has not been able to produce any data in support of masking from any randomized controlled trials. On the contrary, Florida schools were open for the entire last academic year (August 2020-May 2021) and school districts with mask mandates did not perform significantly differently in terms of COVID-19 outcomes than schools without mask mandates," the governor's office wrote.
The ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases is rivaling the peak of the virus last seen at the beginning of the year, which was considered the worst of the pandemic.
On Tuesday, Florida reported 50,997 new cases of COVID-19 over the last three days to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The data was released the same day the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida reached an all-time of 11,515 patients. The data was released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is used to track admissions and staffing shortages. The figures also show 2,400 of those patients are in ICU beds.