Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ COVID-19 response as making the situation “more dangerous and more life-threatening.”
On Friday, Crist made some of his harshest comments yet about his potential Republican rival in the 2022 General Election, telling members of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club that Florida leads the nation in new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, emergency rooms and intensive care units are overwhelmed, and schools sent home thousands of children due to COVID-19 tests or exposures.
“It is truly tragic,” he said.
“Gov. DeSantis is worse than negligent,” Crist added. “He is actively working against us, and he is risking the lives of our fellow Floridians.”
Crist expanded his pledge to require vaccinations for state employees should he win the gubernatorial election. The day before, he said vaccines should be required for teachers, first responders, and health care workers.
He also pledged to encourage mask mandates in schools and public universities. Nevertheless, Crist would prefer to leave the final decisions to local boards, saying “government closest to the people governs best.”
“Nobody wants to shut down schools again. Nobody wants to shut down our economy again,” Crist said. “Our kids, our teachers, our parents need to have learning take place in the classroom. Our employees need to be able to go to work. And our businesses need to be able to stay open.
“The way forward to me is clear,” Crist continued. “To survive the pandemic, we need to wear our masks indoors for now. We all need to be vaccinated. But the trends are heading in the wrong direction.”
Crist believes more than two-thirds of Florida’s hospitals will face critical staffing shortages as soon as next week.
“Yet Gov. DeSantis is busy running for President and kissing the ring of Fox News, while Floridians die and students are suffering,” Crist said. “It is truly outrageous.”
He accused DeSantis of acting like a dictator by threatening to punish school boards and superintendents for requiring students to wear masks. “It is truly an abuse of power,” Crist said.
He accused DeSantis of caring little about trying to prevent people from catching COVID-19 by not vigorously promoting vaccinations, by dismissing mask-wearing indoors, and by instead focusing on offering treatments to people who catch COVID-19, with the monoclonal antibody therapy that DeSantis has been barnstorming the state to encourage.