Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday suspending local COVID-19 emergency orders in the state and banning “vaccine passports.”
He also signed an executive order immediately lifting the local emergency orders to bridge the gap between now and when the bill takes effect on July 1.
DeSantis said the move is “the evidence-based thing to do.”
“I think folks that are saying that they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, you really are saying you don’t believe in the vaccines, you don’t believe in the data, you don’t believe in the science,” DeSantis said. “We’ve embraced the vaccines. We’ve embraced the science on it.”
The governor pointed out that the suspension affects only government-mandated orders. It won’t affect how businesses such as supermarkets or Disney theme parks enforce coronavirus restrictions.
“It’s simply emergency orders and emergency penalties on individual businesses,” he said.
He explained that the bill “ensures that neither the state or local governments can close businesses or keep kids out of in-personal instruction unless they satisfy a demanding and continuous justification.”
DeSantis previous issued an executive order banning “vaccine passports,”
“You have a right to participate in society, go to a restaurant, movie, a ballgame, all these things without having to divulge this type of information,” DeSantis said.
See the news conference:
‘Most epidemiologists don’t know the literature as well as he does’
Last week, amid criticism from Democrats and media for opening his state, DeSantis received praise from one of the prominent epidemiologists who have advised him.
Stanford medical professor Jayanta Bhattacharya said he was surprised by the governor’s knowledge, calling him “extraordinary” and unlike any other politician.
“I mean, most epidemiologists don’t know the literature as well as he does. I mean, I don’t have the words. … I’m still stunned by it. I didn’t know anything about him, actually, before September, really. I’ve just been very impressed,” Bhattacharya said.
He said DeSantis had read all of the papers he referenced and many more.
“He knew all of the details; it was a remarkable conversation,” Bhattacharya said. “And then, we had this, like, roundtable on Sept. 25, with Martin and Mike Leavitt, and with DeSantis leading it, and the next day, he lifted most of the restrictions all across Florida.”
‘Spiking the ball on the 10-yard line’
The signing of the bill and the executive order Monday drew criticism from some Florida mayors who thought the moves were premature, reported WPLG-TV in Miami.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said it “feels like he’s spiking the ball on the 10-yard line.”
“He’s been following political ideology more than science during this whole pandemic,” Gelber said.
Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago said he will “continue to encourage our residents and visitors to wear masks and follow social distancing and CDC guidelines.”
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman expressed his opposition on Twitter.
“Today, in preempting both local governments AND businesses from keeping their establishments safe, Ron DeSantis decided he cares not about public health, but power,” Kriseman said.
Your passport, please
The Biden administration has insisted it will not issue a government vaccine passport. However, it has been cooperating with corporations that have indicated they plan to require them, working on a way to standardize a vaccine ID process, the Washington Post reported in April.
The paper said the administration and private companies, “from cruise lines to sports teams,” could require the passports, which could amount to an app on a smartphone with a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass.
On Friday, Biden told NBC News’ Craig Melvin he has not ruled out requiring that all military personnel receive the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Washington state Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee announced new guidelines Thursday that give special treatment to fully vaccinated people related to sporting events, performing arts and cruises.
In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday she will ease coronavirus restrictions when enough residents receive the vaccine, tying personal freedom to vaccine benchmarks.
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Author: Art Moore
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