DeSantis responds to CDC’s change of mind on masks with mockery

By: - August 2, 2021 7:10 am

Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council in Salt Lake City on July 28, 2021. Source: Screenshot/ALEC YouTube

Faced with a record spike in COVID infections, caused by the highly contagious Delta variant, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Gov. Ron DeSantis have settled on markedly divergent reactions.

The federal public health authorities bit the bullet and reversed course, countermanding their earlier advice that vaccinated people need not wear face masks while indoors. Now, they advise mask wearing, even for fully-vaccinated people, because the Delta variant is so highly communicable.

DeSantis’s response is to mock the CDC, as in his speech last week to a gathering of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Salt Lake City.

“Did you not get the CDC’s memo? I don’t see you guys complying,” the governor told the largely unmasked crowd, earning chuckles.

“I say that jokingly, but I think that that may be a sign of [the CDC] potentially seeking to do more things into the future, and I think it’s very important that we say unequivocally no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions, and no mandates,” he said to cheers.

“Floridians are free to choose and all Americans should be free to choose how they govern their affairs, how they take care of themselves and out families, and they should not be consigned to live, regardless of which state in the union, consigned to live in a Faucian dystopia in which we’re governed by the whims of bureaucratic authorities who care little for our freedom, little for our aspirations, and little for our happiness,” DeSantis said.

“No more. We can’t let it happen going forward.”

Delta-variant infections have been spiking in Florida, but the governor repeated his insistence the caseload represents a seasonal fluctuation unrelated to pandemic-control measures like wearing face masks and social distancing.

He was particularly disdainful of public school closures, in which “millions of kids got locked out of school for most of a year.” He noted that the Florida Education Association sued him over his school reopening plan, although the union later dropped the action.

“I think you’re going to continue to have the unions and the CDC — and they’re basically one-in-the-same right now, they work in tandem,” he said. “I fear that they’re trying to set up additional school closures.”

DeSantis referred to Dwight Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” speech, in which the late president also warned against an emerging “scientific-technological elite.”

“That’s a big problem now, because when [Dr. Anthony] Fauci makes these pronouncements, people don’t want to contradict him, even if he’s wrong, because they fear that they won’t get funding in the future,” DeSantis said.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.