By Bethany Blankley
The Center Square
August 6, 2021
In response to President Joe Biden criticizing the governors of Texas and Florida for not implementing mask mandates or other restrictions after COVID-19 spikes, both Republican governors said they were not going to do what the president suggested.
“Florida and Texas account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country. Just two states,” Biden said this week. “Look, we need leadership from everyone. If some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it.
“I say to these governors: please help. If you aren’t going to help, please get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing.”
His remarks came after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order on July 29, prohibiting every Texas county, city, school district or public health authority from issuing mask mandates or risk being fined every time they do. The order specifically states that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”
The order also includes a list of safety protocols Texans are strongly encouraged to follow.
Reports from Texas border towns have seen several hundred percent increases in COVID-19 cases in part because of illegal immigration. At a recent event in Del Rio, Texas, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was shocked to learn that the majority of migrants who had been apprehended, 70%, said they were heading to Florida as their ultimate destination.
Abbott did not address Biden’s remarks directly but said in a Wednesday keynote speech at an Asian American Hotel Owners Association Convention in Dallas that there wouldn’t be another lockdown in Texas.
“The Texas economy is booming … and we are … keeping our state open for business and ensuring entrepreneurs and business owners have the tools and support they need to succeed,” Abbott said.
“Another thing that has propelled business operations in Texas … is that Texas has remained open for business during the course of the pandemic,” he added. “One thing that we know is that safe practices are important. That said, one thing that we learned along the way is lockdowns are wrong during the course of a pandemic.”
He said safe practices were already in place, including the option to receive various treatments including vaccines.
Abbott also signed a bill into law prohibiting government entities and companies that receive government funds from requiring vaccine passports as a condition to receive services in Texas. He’s also repeatedly said that the choice to get a vaccine is voluntary and never forced in Texas.
Texans are aware of safety measures, he said, and “everyone can voluntarily implement the mandates that are safest for them.”
At a news conference in Panama City on Wednesday, DeSantis did not mince words. He blamed Biden for COVID-19 spreading because of his open border policies.
“Joe Biden has taken it on himself to single out Florida over COVID,” DeSantis said. “This is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to ‘shut down the virus.’ And what has he done? He’s imported more of the virus from all over the world by having a wide open southern border.”
DeSantis said forcing children to wear masks in schools is not a solution.
“He doesn’t believe parents should have a say in that,” the Florida governor said. “He thinks that should be a decision for the government. Well, I can tell you that in Florida the parents are going to be the ones in charge of that decision.”
Desantis also criticized Biden for his vaccine mandates.
“We said from the beginning we’re going to make [the vaccine] available for all but we’re not going to mandate it on anybody,” he said. “That’s ultimately an individual’s choice to be able to do it. …”
The Florida governor said the most impactfult thing Biden can do to slow the spread of the delta variant is close the border.
“So why don’t you do your job? Why don’t you get this border secure?” he said. “And until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.”