TALLAHASSEE - Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republicans have been quick to push back against a report that President Joe Biden’s administration was considering new travel restrictions to areas, including Florida, that have seen a surge in cases involving variants of COVID-19.
DeSantis in Port Charlotte on Thursday called the White House proposal "absurd" and potentially unconstitutional.
"We will oppose it 100-percent," DeSantis said. "It would not be based in science. It would purely be a political attack against the people of Florida. And it's unclear why they would even try talking about that."
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote to the Democratic president that such a travel restriction would be an "outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science."
"Instead, it would only serve to inflict severe and devastating economic pain on an already damaged economy," Rubio wrote. "If you are concerned about the coronavirus spread in Florida, I urge you to fast-track additional vaccines to the state instead of attempting to cripple our economy."
The White House has not released any details about what the restrictions would be, but it could impact Florida because of the increasing number of coronavirus variant cases.
DeSantis also was emphatic Wednesday that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against a variant of the disease found in the United Kingdom. That strain is spreading in Florida and other parts of the U.S. According to the CDC, Florida accounts for about a third of all the country’s cases of the highly contagious UK variant.
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"We know, based upon all the evidence, that these vaccines are going to be effective against that," DeSantis said while in Venice. "We’re getting our seniors vaccinated. We’ve not seen any data or any evidence to suggest that these vaccines are not effective."
The state Department of Health reported that, as of Tuesday, more than 2.1 million people had received first doses or full two-shot series of the vaccines in Florida.
The White House restrictions are being contemplated as Canada, a big source of Florida’s foreign visitors, announced that starting Monday, people arriving by land will have to show negative COVID-19 tests from within the previous 72 hours.
DeSantis said Florida is doing well compared to other states, citing the state’s success in vaccinating seniors among other accomplishments.
"We’ve had to stand by Floridians over these many, many months," DeSantis said. "Even in difficult circumstances, even when it was not easy to do. We’ve saved their jobs, time and time again. We’ve preserved small businesses time and time again and we preserved the right of parents to send their kids to school in person."