Gov. Ron DeSantis says people need to learn to live with COVID-19 because the disease won’t ever be eradicated.
The Republican Governor, who has railed against strong anti-coronavirus policies for most of the pandemic, again took aim at President Joe Biden and Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci during an Orlando press conference on Monday amid growing concerns about an emerging COVID-19 variant.
Biden on Monday called the omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.” He also said lockdowns are off the table, “for now.” That qualifier drew a rebuke from DeSantis, who also criticized Fauci for not offering a blanket opposition to lockdowns.
Despite the Biden administration’s opposition to lockdowns, the United States on Friday joined the growing list of nations restricting travel from southern Africa.
“What are you going to do, indefinite restriction? It’s not going to ever be eradicated,” DeSantis said. “That’s just the bottom line. People just need to understand that.”
COVID-19 “has animal reservoirs” and will become an endemic respiratory virus, he continued.
Fauci in recent weeks has said COVID-19 could become an endemic disease by 2022 if the United States increases its vaccination rates. Classifying the disease as endemic would be a downgrade from pandemic, meaning the spread would be less severe but stay constant.
Lockdowns and forced-masking haven’t stopped the pandemic, DeSantis noted. He called promoting medications and vaccines “a much better approach.”
“In Florida, we will not let them lock you down. We will not let them take your jobs. We will not let them harm your businesses. We will not let them close your schools,” he said. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
The World Health Organization warned Monday that the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, according to The Associated Press. The mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”
However, the Biden administration has said it could take two weeks to develop conclusive information about the variant.
“You can’t cripple your society for fear of a variant where we don’t even have any really meaningful data on,” DeSantis said. “The South African doctor that identified it, she said this has been very mild, and so why would you be doing knee jerk reactions?”
DeSantis, as he has done repeatedly, also threw a punch at the media for “narratives” around the virus.
“We are not, in Florida, going to allow any media-driven hysteria to do anything to infringe people’s individual freedoms when it comes to any type of COVID variants,” DeSantis said.
The Governor, who in August predicted the north would see a COVID-19 spike this winter, also called the disease seasonal.
“When I said over the summer, we have seasonal waves in the south, a lot of the (corporate) press (said) ‘Oh my gosh,'” DeSantis said. “Now that it’s taking off in the north, they don’t have governors that they want to blame for it. And so now they’re saying it’s seasonal, but that’s obvious that that’s the case.”