Florida Governor Ron DeSantis promised to “fight” any attempt by the federal government to mandate vaccinations or COVID-19 tests on private businesses and individuals.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a sweeping new plan to combat COVID-19, including mandating vaccinations for all federal employees and contractors and threatening businesses with fines unless they require their employees to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests. DeSantis reacted to early reports of Biden’s executive order in a press conference promoting the use of monoclonal antibodies to treat severe cases of COVID-19.
“How could we get to the point in the country where you would want to have someone lose their job because of their choice about the vaccine or not? I mean, look, some folks have reasons to do — maybe they’re making the wrong decision — but to put them out of work and not let them earn a living because of this, I just think that that’s fundamentally wrong,” DeSantis said, later adding: “I do not believe that people should lose their jobs over this issue, and we will fight that. If they try to do that through a rule like the Department of Labor, I don’t think they have the legal authority to do that, but we obviously would want to support protections for people who are just trying to earn a living.”
DeSantis went on to critique Biden’s plan for convincing Americans to get vaccinated, saying that education rather than mandates had better results while being less intrusive.
“The people that have had the higher vaccination rates in businesses have been ones that have had programs where they’re educating people, where they’re providing them all the information, showing some of the consequences,” DeSantis said.
“I think forcing this and coercing people, I don’t think this is the right decision. So I’d imagine that you’re going to see a lot of activity in the courts if they try to do that through an executive action, I mean, Congress has never legislated this,” the governor added.
Biden released his six-point COVID-19 plan on Thursday, sparking a furious backlash among Republicans and others resistant to the intrusive mandates.
“There are still nearly 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated who have not yet gotten their first shot,” Biden’s plan says. “The President’s plan will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements — these requirements will become dominant in the workplace. In addition, the plan will provide paid time off for vaccination for most workers in the country.”
Biden also went after governors who have banned mask mandates in schools, such as in Florida and Texas. Part of Biden’s plan includes taking action against those states that have banned masking indoors.
“We know how to keep students safe in schools by taking the right steps to prevent transmission — including getting all staff and eligible students vaccinated, implementing universal indoor masking, maintaining physical distancing, improving ventilation, and performing regular screening testing for students and school staff,” Biden’s plan says. “The President’s plan calls for additional actions to ensure all schools consistently implement these science-based prevention strategies recommended by the CDC so that they can remain open for in-person learning and maintain the health and safety of all students, staff, and families.”