Gov. Ron DeSantis lashed out at President Joe Biden a day after Biden told the Republican governor to “get out of the way” of mask mandates.

During a stop in Panama City on Wednesday, DeSantis accused Biden of “helping facilitate” COVID-19 by not securing the border with Mexico. He said immigrants crossing the border are spreading all sorts of variants of the virus.

“You have hundreds of thousands of people pouring across every month,” DeSantis said. “Not only are they letting them through, they’re farming them out all across the country, putting them on planes, putting them on buses. Do you think they’re worrying about COVID for that? Of course not.”

He said the immigrants are crossing the border from all over the world, and “whatever variants there are around the world, they’re coming across that southern border.”

“He’s not shutting down the virus. He’s helping facilitate it,” DeSantis said of Biden.

“Why don’t you get this border secure?” DeSantis added. “Until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.”

DeSantis’ comments came after Biden on Tuesday criticized the governor’s opposition to mask mandates.

“Look, we need leadership from everyone. If some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it,” Biden said in remarks about the pandemic. “I say to these governors, please help. But if you are not going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”

DeSantis has attributed the state’s uptick in COVID-19 cases to seasonal factors and rejected calls to impose a mask mandate. He last week signed an executive order threatening to withhold state funds from school districts that put mask mandates in place to follow federal health guidance for areas experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, DeSantis doubled down on his opposition to such mandates, saying that “we can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state.”

“I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state,” he said. “If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way.”

©2021 Miami Herald. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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