Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday followed up a confrontation with young people wearing face masks the previous day with more pandemic messaging behind a sign reading “prescribe freedom.”
Returning to Panama City, DeSantis attempted to sell the Free Speech of Health Care Practitioners Act, a “timely and important” legislative proposal still alive in the House and Senate but not poised as of yet for a floor vote in either body.
“It has not gotten across the finish line,” DeSantis said. “Let’s make sure we can do it.”
The Governor’s 11th-hour push for the bill may give it momentum, if only as a tack-on amendment to another bill during the dizzying final stretch of the 2022 Legislative Session.
DeSantis complained about a “very politicized medical establishment … informed by a particular type of political ideology, unfortunately.”
The Governor laid into Dr. Anthony Fauci and associated “lockdown” policies, as he has done before, lamenting “the coercive force of the state” being “imposed” in places outside of Florida.
He also expressed annoyance at the relaxation of COVID-19 masking protocols for the State of the Union address.
“All of a sudden the guidance has changed,” DeSantis said. “Is that how the science works? Does the science change based on polling data? Does the science change because you have a midterm election coming up?”
DeSantis warned “threats to freedom” remain despite Florida’s best efforts, again discussing Google and YouTube restricting COVID-19 commentary that deviates from the medical consensus.
“You have to have protection for the First Amendment rights of people that are practicing medicine,” DeSantis said, defending the right to “go against the narrative” on COVID-19 treatment and origins.
The Governor also criticized “Big Pharma,” which he said “has a hammerlock” over the medical profession with its privileged patents and logrolling in the legislative process. The “medical establishment is really in lockstep with those big drug companies,” he added.
DeSantis had support in the form of Florida’s Surgeon General and the state’s Chief Financial Officer, who often makes Panhandle trips with the Governor, as well as medical professionals standing behind him with prefab signs reading “Free Speech Free State” and “Science Not Censorship.”
“It would be one thing if, when you were proven right, people would acknowledge it,” Surgeon General Joe Ladapo quipped. “Nope.”
Ladapo, who came to prominence as an opponent of stringent COVID-19 mitigation policies, said “truth” itself was at stake with this bill, with doctors who bucked the consensus kicked off of social media.
He held up a mask, expressing indignation that “some people think that these things save lives.” The Surgeon General said the CDC leaned on “shaky studies” to make their more stringent recommendations.
CFO Jimmy Patronis lamented “rogue blue state Governors’ policies,” saying they proved that “political science wins over real science” outside of Florida.
For DeSantis, who urged people to buck the CDC last week, and tweeted out video of his strong advice to minors to shed their facemasks on Wednesday just minutes before Thursday’s remarks, it is clear the commitment to pandemic messaging continues as the 2022 Legislative Session winds down and the campaign heats up.
The political science show cannot go on.
It’s curtain call for COVID theater. pic.twitter.com/CoUIC6NX83
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantisFL) March 3, 2022