Gov. Ron DeSantis lashed out Friday against President Joe Biden, characterizing the forthcoming federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate as a harmful and divisive ultimatum.
Speaking in Naples, the Republican Governor rebuked the order and questioned Biden’s calls for unity. With livelihoods of roughly 100 million Americans hanging in the balance, the nation’s high political tensions, he suggested, are no surprise.
“Don’t make the vaccines divisive?” DeSantis quipped. “You are trying to take people’s jobs away over this issue. You are trying to plunge people into destitution. You are taking away their livelihoods. Nobody else is doing that. You are the one that’s being divisive about this.”
DeSantis’ tirade marks the latest dustup between the 2024 presidential prospect and the Democratic leader. The pair have repeatedly locked horns over an array of issues, including vaccine mandates and the border crisis.
Biden’s plans will affect millions of Americans, including health care workers, federal contractors and two-thirds of the private sector, according to CNBC.
Under the new rules, companies with more than 100 employees must require vaccinations or offer a once-a-week COVID-19 test. Health care workers at facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid, meanwhile, must require vaccinations.
DeSantis implied the mandate is unconstitutional and a betrayal of the nation’s frontline workers. He warned many employees may leave their jobs over the mandate, further aggravating the nation’s shortage of health care workers.
“No one should lose their job over these shots,” DeSantis said, noting the natural immunity some may have from previous exposure to COVID-19. “I think we want to protect people’s jobs. These are folks that have been working throughout this whole time. They were put in situations where they were exposing themselves … knowingly to help others, and they did that, and we considered them heroes just a year ago. Now you’re going to let them go by the wayside.”
Notably, DeSantis is among a handful of Republican leaders challenging the mandate, warning that vaccine passports will create two classes in America: the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Attorney General Ashley Moody in September vowed to take “any and all action” against the federal plans and joined a Republican coalition of 24 attorneys general who warned they’re prepared to litigate.
Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health fined Leon County $3.5 million Tuesday after the county required proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.
The county fired 14 employees on Oct. 4 after County Administrator Vince Long issued an Oct. 1 deadline for government workers to get a COVID-19 shot — an alleged violation of the state’s vaccine passport ban. Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo found 714 instances of violations, each carrying fines of $5,000.
Biden’s forthcoming vaccine mandate, drafted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is awaiting review by the White House Office of Management and Budget. The agency has 90 days to review the rule and make a determination.