Biden criticizes DeSantis for opposing face mask mandates and vaccine incentives amid surge in COVID cases

WASHINGTON – During a speech on Tuesday at the White House, President Joe Biden criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis for opposing face mask mandates and vaccine requirements as there is an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases in Florida.

Biden asked DeSantis to allow local governments to implement the mandates aimed at protecting lives. The coronavirus Delta strain is fueling what Biden has described as the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“If you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way of people trying to do the right thing,” Biden said.

About 11,515 people were hospitalized for COVID in Florida on Tuesday, including 2,400 who were in intensive care, according to the Florida Hospital Association.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis listens during a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, near the Shark Valley Visitor Center in Miami. DeSantis is doubling down as the state again broke its record for COVID-19 hospitalizations. The Republican governor insisted Tuesday that the spike will be short-lived. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DeSantis passed an executive order banning face mask mandates at Florida public schools. It invalidated the School Board of Broward County’s decision to implement a face mask mandate starting Aug. 18 when kids return to class.

The district wanted to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest recommendation for “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”

“These interventions have failed, time and time again, throughout this pandemic -- not just in the United States, but abroad,” DeSantis said Tuesday.

Related stories

About the Authors:

Ben Kennedy is an Emmy Award-winning Washington Bureau Chief for Local 10 News.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.