September 29, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday criticized lawmakers in other states for treating monkeypox as an emergency, saying his state will not succumb to fear in response to the outbreak.

DeSantis, who gained a reputation for aggressively resisting COVID public safety measures, including mask and vaccine mandates, accused officials of using monkeypox to scare people.

“I’m so sick of politicians — and we’ve seen this with COVID — trying to instill fear in the population,” DeSantis said at a news conference.

And he continued: “We are not afraid.”

DeSantis is seen as a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate who could challenge former President Donald Trump. He is up for re-election as governor in November. Although he has boasted about his no-holds-barred pandemic policies, Florida’s COVID infection and death rates have far exceeded the national average. according to

“You see some of these states declaring states of emergency, they’re going to abuse those powers to limit your freedom,” DeSantis warned of the monkeypox mandates. “I guarantee you that will happen.”

California and Illinois on Monday became the latest states to declare monkeypox a public health emergency, joining New York state. Orders usually free up funding and other resources for local health authorities.

Florida has recorded 525 cases of monkeypox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday, the fifth-highest number in the U.S. since about 350 infections late last week, according to Politico.

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), one of the candidates vying to unseat DeSantis in November, called for a stronger response to the virus.

“While Governor DeSantis dismisses monkeypox, Florida’s at-risk people still need better information, better testing and access to vaccines for prevention. Do it!” Crist wrote on Twitter.

The White House has yet to declare a monkeypox emergency. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden determined Robert Fenton of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the White House smallpox response coordinator and Dr. Dimitris Daskalakis as Fenton’s deputy. Their responsibilities include working with local and state officials to “equitably” increase the availability of testing, treatment and vaccination.

However, new New York Times report on Wednesday revealed that the US was late in ordering vaccines from the Danish manufacturer at the start of the outbreak. As a result, millions of vaccine doses will not be delivered until 2023.

Last month, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak an “emergency” and declared it a global emergency.

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