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Gov. DeSantis: Restrictions not happening in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks Friday at a manufacturing plant St. Lucie County. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Florida leading the nation in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday the state has done enough to stop the virus and he is getting on with the business of protecting livelihoods.

This comes as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data for the past week show Florida is averaging more than 15,000 new cases, nearly 2,000 hospital admissions and more than 50 deaths each day.

“These waves ebb and flow. It’s not something that government can control and the government’s attempts to control that, I think we’ve seen throughout the country and throughout the world, have been incredibly, incredibly harmful and incredibly damaging,” DeSantis said at a news conference announcing a $3.5 million grant for a development project in St. Lucie County. “In terms of imposing any restrictions, you know, that’s not happening in Florida. It’s harmful. It’s disruptive. It does not work.”

DeSantis did concede that the state was seeing a spike in cases.

“Between the vaccinations, which were done, and I think we’ve done almost 12 million range shots or individuals, and then the treatments ... those combined can reduce this to basically a flu-level risk,” DeSantis said. “You’re definitely seeing a reduction in mortality.”

DeSantis last week signed an emergency order preventing local school districts from imposing a mask mandate and has threatened the few that are going forward with such requirements, such as Alachua County, with the withholding of Department of Education funding. Duval County is moving forward with a carefully worded change to its code of student conduct that allows parents to opt-out of having their child wear a mask at school.

On Thursday, DeSantis criticized hospitals that are requiring employees to get vaccines. He has not said if he would ban the practice, but said during an appearance at Tampa General Hospital that, “it’s not something I support.”

DeSantis pointed to the fact that the vast majority of people hospitalized were not vaccinated or had not previously had the virus, and stated the state is seeing a seasonal spike in coronavirus.

“We also have to acknowledge that people who are vaccinated are still testing positive and it’s not necessarily creating the herd immunity that we had hoped,” DeSantis said Friday. “In terms of protecting against severe outcomes, all of our hospitals and all the physicians, you know, they believe it’s been very positive. And they believe that some of the patients that have presented themselves, particularly higher risk, had they not been vaccinated, they think that the disease would have progressed much worse. So we’re going to continue doing that and continuing providing whatever help we can.”

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