President Joe Biden called out Republican governors including Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’s Greg Abbott at a White House event this week, urging the state leaders to either “help” or “get out of the way.” Recently, both Abbott and DeSantis have signed orders restricting the ability of local officials to respond in their own ways to the COVID-19 pandemic. In DeSantis’s case, for instance, he enacted an order essentially blocking local school boards from imposing face mask mandates for their jurisdictions, even as COVID-19 hospitalizations across Florida skyrocket. Among other provisions, Abbott’s similar recent order blocks local Texas officials from imposing capacity restrictions for local businesses.
As Biden observed, COVID-19 requires a unified and urgent response from those in charge, but leaders like Ron DeSantis have opted to focus their energies on resisting basic safety measures in the name of so-called freedom, or whatever. Meanwhile, thousands of Ron’s own constituents are languishing in hospitals with COVID-19.
As Biden pointedly put it:
‘What are we doing? COVID-19 is a national challenge. And we must come together — we have to come together, all of us together as a country to solve it. Make no mistake: the escalation of cases is particularly concentrated in states with low vaccination rates. Just two states, Florida and Texas, account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country. Just two states. Look, we need leadership from everyone, and if some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to meet this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it. 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 that are trying to do the right thing.’
Check out Biden’s remarks below:
"Just two states, Florida and Texas, account for one-third of all new Covid-19 cases in the entire country. We need leadership from everyone … I say to these governors, please help, but if you aren't going to help, at least get out of the way" — Biden pic.twitter.com/dPDnGAJ38u
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 3, 2021
A newly released survey from St. Pete Polls shows Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist leading DeSantis, who is up for re-election next year. In the survey, Crist — who is himself a former governor and currently serves in Congress — garnered 45.3 percent of the support, while DeSantis got 43.8 percent. Although the numbers are close, statewide elections in Florida — including the one that DeSantis won, handing him the governorship — have often been close.