Psaki attacks Florida’s DeSantis, governor’s office fires back: ‘Psaki is the one playing politics’

Psaki attacks Florida’s DeSantis, governor’s office fires back: ‘Psaki is the one playing politics’

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, accusing the Republican governor of choosing “politics” over “public health.” 

DeSantis, an outspoken opponent of coronavirus restrictions like state-level mask mandates, has been repeatedly floated as a potential 2024 challenger to President Biden. 

During her daily press briefing Monday, Psaki said the Biden administration was “ready and available” to provide federal assistance, “whether that is Florida or any other part of the country,” after the Sunshine State broke two coronavirus-related records over the weekend with the highest number of reported cases in a day and the highest number of hospitalizations per capita. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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“Twenty percent of the cases we’re seeing are in Florida,” Psaki said.

“There are steps and precautions that can be taken,” she continued, “including encouraging people to get vaccinated, encouraging people to wear masks, including allowing schools to mandate masks and allowing kids to wear masks, which is not the current state of play in Florida.” 

Psaki appears to have partially misrepresented Florida policy – DeSantis made mask-wearing optional for Florida students but did not prohibit students from wearing masks. 

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“So, you know, at a certain point, leaders are going to have to choose whether they’re going to follow public health guidelines or whether they’re going to follow politics,” she added. “And we certainly encourage all governors to follow the public health guidelines.”

DeSantis’ office fired back at Psaki, pointing out that the state allows parents to decide whether their children will wear masks or not, and highlighting that the governor held over 50 vaccine-specific events urging Floridians to get the shots. 

“By dismissively ignoring Governor DeSantis’ efforts to protect vulnerable Floridians, Psaki is the one playing politics with the pandemic,” DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw told Fox News in an email. 

“The White House should be more concerned about the flip-flopping of the CDC, which is inadvertently promoting vaccine hesitancy with their confusing, contradictory public communications. Stating that vaccinated people should wear masks and socially distance is implying that the vaccines do not change anything, which is the wrong message for our federal government to be promoting.”

Fox News’ Peter Hasson contributed reporting

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