Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made a surprise appearance on the last day of the Gulf Coast Jam concert festival Sunday to wild applause.
In a tweet after the festival, DeSantis claimed the event was “the largest music festival since the pandemic began.” The Gulf Coast Jam festival is the first major open air concert festival held since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, according to Panama City’s News Herald.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 7, 2021
The Florida governor, who has been an outspoken critic of lockdowns, walked on stage before the country singer Luke Bryan was slated to appear. DeSantis touted Florida’s approach to the pandemic and mocked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for pushing heavy-handed government measures to combat COVID-19.
DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw posted clips of the governor’s appearance and the crowd’s reaction on Twitter. “Florida chose freedom over Fauci-ism,” DeSantis said as the crowd cheers.
— Christina Pushaw (@ChristinaPushaw) June 7, 2021
“My message for other states and other countries: open you states, open your schools, let people live their lives, don’t make them wear masks,” DeSantis told the crowd to cheers and applause in a clip posted by WJHG.
"Let people live their lives."
Governor DeSantis made a guest appearance at Gulf Coast Jam Sunday night with a message to other states about reopening. pic.twitter.com/Vl4LtWPZaw
— WJHG-TV (@WJHG_TV) June 7, 2021
The GOP governor has been an outspoken critic of Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other federal agencies and officials the pushed and continue to push strict measures to combat COVID-19. In May, DeSantis accused the CDC of playing politics with its guidelines to reopening schools.
“If you look at some of the stuff that they’ve done on school openings, where they’re basically doing the teacher’s union’s bidding, when they say these kids should be masked in summer camp outdoors. I’m sorry, that’s not science, that’s politics,” the governor said at a press conference.
“Our state was predicted to get hit worse on COVID economically than any other state because of our service economy and our tourism base,” he continued. “And what we were able to do by keeping Florida open, we saved hundreds of thousands of jobs in the restaurant, hotel, hospitality industry. We saved thousands of businesses.”
“In some parts of the country, these businesses are dead. They’re never coming back. This is the heavy hand of government crushing family businesses, ruining jobs and destroying millions of people’s lives. We chose another path in Florida; it was the right path; it was the successful path,” he added.
DeSantis issued lockdown regulations in March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. His order was much less restrictive than those put in place in states such as New York, Michigan, and California, however. He also lifted regulations on individuals and businesses much faster than other governors.
In March last year, Fauci disapproved of DeSantis’ approach to the pandemic and the overall behavior of Florida residents and tourists as beaches and restaurants continued to draw large crowds of young adults. Fauci expressed his displeasure in an email to a Florida doctor on March 19.
“Regarding the bars and beaches, I have been screaming on TV 2 to 5 times per night to tell the younger generation to start taking this seriously,” Fauci wrote. “I am very surprised that Gov. DeSantis has not completely closed the bars, even if they serve food. Take out only. I will bring this up at the Task Force meeting tomorrow. Please take care of yourself. You are an indispensable front line warrior.”
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