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DeSantis vows to fight Biden-mandated vaccines

At stop in Fort Myers, governor also touts success of monoclonal antibody treatments

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | Oct 14, 2021

Gov. Ron DeSantis

With proposed rules looming for mandated vaccines in the private sector by the administration of President Joe Biden, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he would challenge any such mandates in federal court during an appearance Thursday in Fort Myers.

Speaking at the Florida Department of Health office in Lee County, DeSantis also used his appearance to publicize the number of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 conducted by the state department of health.

“We need to make sure people know this is available,” he said of the treatments.

During a sharp spike in coronavirus hospitalizations in August, the administration rolled out monoclonal antibody treatment centers at locations around the state. Lee Health had already been providing such treatments at the time of the governor’s initiative.

DeSantis noted “huge declines” in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the past month. DeSantis also pushed back against concerns over mask mandates which had led to much conflict at schools in the state last month.

“The schools are not causing any COVID waves,” he said.

Responding to a question about a rule being formulated by the Biden administration to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, DeSantis said “We are going to contest that immediately. We think the State of Florida has standing to do it.”

DeSantis said the administration would work with businesses to challenge the federal rule.

“It’s bad for the economy,” he said.

“I think the mandate is going to lose in court,” DeSantis said. The governor said he expected Texas to also challenge the mandate. “This is a total reach that they are doing,” he said.

DeSantis also indicated he would press for state legislation to “protect the jobs of Floridians” who could face joblessness due to federal vaccine mandates. “I just think it’s wrong to take people’s jobs away,” he said. “Let’s not have Biden come in and effectively threaten to take away the jobs of people.”

DeSantis said any threats to Medicare funding for hospitals who don’t require vaccinations for workers also should be challenged.

“What going to happen with these hospitals if these mandates are allowed to go in where they already need nurses?”

At the same press conference, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo lashed out at what he considers a lack of attention to the treatment of COVID-19.

“The public health leadership of this country has completely politicized the pandemic, he said. “There has been no discussion of treatment.”

Ladapo also touted the effectiveness of monoclonal antibody treatment as preventive for serious COVID-19. More than 130,000 people have been treated by the state with monoclonal antibodies, he said.

Ladapo also attacked the expected federal rules mandating vaccines.

“It’s absolutely, completely wrong to be forcing measures that are related to people’s bodies, their personal decisions just because you want to achieve some outcome,” Ladapo said.

“You don’t need the passports, you don’t need the mandates,” Ladapo said. “You can get through this pandemic without those things.”

As of Thursday, Lee Health reported 78 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, down from 113 a week earlier and down sharply from the figures in early September when more than 600 were hospitalized at a time.

The Thursday numbers include 12 new COVID-19 admissions and 11 COVID-19 discharges on Wednesday. Of that total, five are under the age of 18 being treated at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Lee Health has reported 1,191 patient deaths inside of its hospitals to COVID-19 related complications, including four on Wednesday. More than 1,400 people have died from COVID-19 in Lee County since the pandemic began.

There have been 56,667 deaths from the coronavirus reported statewide as of Monday. There have been more than 3.6 million coronavirus cases reported statewide since last year. Lee County has had 123,425 of those cases.

The vaccination rate for Lee County is 68% for those 12 and older, behind the 72% rate for the state.