‘As a parent myself of two young children. I want public health officials to make decisions about how to keep my kids safe, not politicians. And not only is Governor DeSantis not abiding by public health decisions he’s fundraising off of this,’ Psaki said at her daily press briefing.
‘Parents in Florida, parents across the country, should have the ability and the knowledge that their kids are going to school and they’re in safe environments that shouldn’t be too much to ask,’ she added.
President Joe Biden and his team have launched attack after attack on DeSantis after the Republican governor told Florida schools not to follow a CDC recommendations that students were face masks in the classroom.
DeSantis, who is running for a second term in the gubernatorial mansion in next year’s election and is seen as a possible 2014 presidential candidate, has blasted out at least two fundraising emails this week, touting his COVID stance.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki slammed the Florida governor for fundraising off his defiance of COVID requirements
One fundraising email accused Biden of ‘authoritarian bullying’ and argued DeSantis ‘will ALWAYS stand up for the freedom of Floridians.’ A second email quoted DeSantis saying of Biden: ‘I will ALWAYS stand between power-hungry tyrants and the people of Florida.’
Psaki compared DeSantis’ behavior to that of other Republican governors, saying the ‘vast majority of governors – Republican governors – are doing exactly the right thing’ on the pandemic.
She specifically cited Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan – for their work.
Hutchinson said recently he regretted signing a law banning local mask mandates. Maryland has a 78% vaccination rate and he was one of the first governors in America to require face masking.
‘This is not political for us,’ Psaki said.
Biden got in his own hit on DeSantis on Thursday, joking ‘governor who’ when asked about the Florida Republican.
The two men have gotten into a tit-for-tat over COVID guidelines with Biden criticizing DeSantis for telling Florida schools not to follow CDC guidelines on having students wear face masks.
Biden asked DeSantis to ‘get out of the way’ of restrictions as COVID cases are on the rise. And DeSantis snapped back: ‘Why don’t you do your job?’
The president piled on Thursday during an event at the White House on electric cars. Biden had just finished driving an electric Jeep Wrangler around the South Lawn when he was asked his response to DeSantis’ criticism: ‘Governor who,’ he said and then chuckled.
The White House has doubled down on blaming DeSantis and fellow Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas for the rising rates of coronavirus infections in their state.
President Joe Biden kept up his war of words with Ron DeSantis, joking ‘Governor who’ when asked about him
The battle escalated on Thursday as White House officials followed Biden’s lead in bashing Florida and Texas.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told the two governors not to be the reason schools are interrupted after they refused to support a CDC recommendation for face masks in classrooms.
‘Don’t be the reason why schools are interrupted. Our students have suffered enough,’ Cardona said when asked his message for Abbott and DeSantis.
‘Politics doesn’t have a role in this. Educators know what to do,’ he added.
DeSantis threatened to withhold funds from Florida school districts if they mandate that students wear face coverings. He said the new CDC recommendations for masks in classrooms ‘lacks’ scientific justification. But several Florida school districts said they would require students to mask-up anyway.
Abbott also said there would be no face mask requirements for Texas school children.
The education secretary also warned there could be more closures if the war over face masks in schools continues.
‘I’m worried that the decisions that are being made, that are not putting students at the center and student health and safety at the center, is going to be why schools may be disrupted. We know what to do,’ he said.
‘We know what works, we have to keep our students safe. We have to keep our educators safe.’
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told the governors of Texas and Florida to not be the reason schools are interrupted
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called out DeSantis for ‘partisan name calling’ during a national pandemic.
‘We’re here to state the facts. Frankly, our view is that this is too serious, deadly serious, to be doing partisan name calling. That’s what we’re not doing here. We’re focused on providing public health data information to the people of Florida, to make sure they understand what steps they should be taking, even if those are not steps taken at the top of the leadership in that state,’ she said.
At the White House COVID briefing on Thursday, response coordinator Jeff Zients noted Florida and Texas have accounted for one-third of new cases in the nation.
‘Over the past seven days Florida and Texas have accounted for about one-third of new cases and more than one-third of new hospitalizations,’ Zients noted. ‘States with some of the lowest vaccination rates account for about half of new cases and hospitalizations in the past week, despite making up less than a quarter of the US population.’
He also praised six Southern states – Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Mississippi – for seeing a rise in vaccination rates.
Zients also noted the administration was pushing for new action on vaccine requirements, including supporting private businesses that have vaccine mandates for employees.
‘Businesses know vaccinations are a way to keep their workers and customers safe and to keep their doors open. And today, Yelp is announcing a new feature that allows consumers to search for businesses with fully vaccinated workers, workers or businesses that require proof of vaccinations to enter the business,’ he said.
‘We support these vaccination requirements to protect workers, communities and the country,’ he added.
White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients noted Florida and Texas have accounted for one-third of new cases in the nation
His comments come after DeSantis furiously attacked Biden on Wednesday after the president’s sharp remarks on his and Abbott’s refusal to embrace mask requirements as COVID numbers surge.
DeSantis complained that Biden was trying to ‘single out Florida,’ after the state broke its own record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, and attempted to shift the focus to the president’s handling of a surge in apprehensions at the southern border.
‘Why don’t you do your job? Why don’t you get this border secure?’ DeSantis angrily told Biden, in a press conference on Wednesday.
‘And until you do that I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.’
Florida set an all-time record for COVID hospitalizations on Tuesday, with 11,515 hospitalized in one day.
The previous day also saw a record 10,389 hospitalizations, outpacing its previous peak on July 23, 2020, when there were 10,170 hospitalizations.
‘Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID,’ said DeSantis.
‘This is a guy who ran saying he was going to shut down the virus. What he’s done is imported the virus from around the world with a wide open southern border.’
‘We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state.
‘And I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state. People are going to be free to choose.’
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, urged DeSantis to do more to help Florida’s COVID battle.
‘Twenty three per cent of new COVID hospitalizations in the U.S are in Florida, and their hospitals are being overwhelmed again,’ she said on Twitter.
‘We are doing everything we can to help the people of FL, and they’re stepping up by getting vaccinated – we hope @GovRonDeSantis joins us in this fight.’
Marco Rubio, senator for Florida, tweeted: ‘You want to help #Florida?
‘Stop sparking fights over mask mandates & pushing contradictory courses of action.
‘Thankfully vaccinations are up.
‘But that’s in spite, not because of the Biden Administration.’
Biden criticized Florida and Texas for barring schools and local governments from imposing mask mandates.
‘They should free people to do the right thing, such as allowing teachers to ask students to wear masks, he continued.
‘I say to these governors, please help.
‘But if you’re not going to help at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.’