White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday there is a “distinct difference” between Democratic governors scrapping mask mandates and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of COVID-19.
“We had another state today drop the indoor mask mandate as the CDC is confirming that their guidance is not changing. But these decisions that are being made at the local level… are out of step with the science,” one reporter began. “So, why are we not hearing the same messaging criticizing states that are, you know, making these moves like we heard previously with, for instance, Ron DeSantis?”
“I would say there is a distinct difference between standing in the way, which Ron DeSantis did — or, Governor DeSantis, I’ll give him his full title — of teachers, school administrators and others taking steps to protect the students and their school communities,” Psaki answered. “There’s a difference between standing in the way of it — threatening to pull back funding — and allowing for local school districts to make choices, which is what a number of these states are doing.”
States including New Jersey, New York, Nevada and Delaware have dropped or drastically rolled back their state’s mask mandates in defiance of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines recommending that individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors at all times. The governors cited changing science and improving COVID-19 conditions as justification for easing masking policies.
Psaki recommended Wednesday that individuals follow the CDC’s guidelines on COVID-19, regardless of state policy. She further noted that no parent, teacher of school board should “be penalized” for enforcing mask mandates. (RELATED: ‘Lies Through Her Teeth’: DeSantis Calls Out Psaki’s Statements On Florida’s Handling Of COVID-19)
DeSantis issued a July 30 executive order banning local school boards from implementing mask mandates with the intent to “empower parents to be able to make the best decisions they can for the well-being of their children.” In August, the governor threatened to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members enforcing masking guidelines.
President Joe Biden accused the governor of “bullying” school officials and threatened to get governors “out of the way” in a Sept. 9 address. Psaki previously said DeSantis’ efforts to block COVID-19 protocols were “deadly serious,” claiming that he had countered public health recommendations at an Aug. 5 press briefing.