Fox News anchor Trace Gallagher falsely claimed Thursday that President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) did not have any disagreement over vaccination policies in the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, Biden had just yesterday called out Republican governors — including DeSantis — who have passed laws forbidding private businesses from having their own vaccine rules, telling them to “get out of the way.”
The state of Florida has been setting new records for COVID-19 hospitalizations — beating even the numbers from 2020. DeSantis has sought to blame the situation on the inflow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, publicly telling the president: “Why don’t you get this border secure? Until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.” (Florida does not share a border with Mexico.)
Sitting as the guest anchor on The Story with Martha MacCallum, Gallagher covered the story in the context of ongoing debates about mask requirements in schools, which DeSantis has also forbidden local school districts from implementing. Gallagher read from a tweet Wednesday in which White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “We are doing everything we can to help the people of FL, and they're stepping up by getting vaccinated – we hope @GovRonDeSantis joins us in this fight.”
“But this is not a battle over vaccinations,” Gallagher insisted. “Because Gov. DeSantis has said over and over again, he wants his state to get vaccinated — it's about masks in schools, no more, no less.”
“Yeah, I completely agree, I don't understand the fight over vaccination,” said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford medical professor associated with the right-wing Hoover Institution who has informally advised DeSantis. “I think they're violently agreeing on vaccination, especially for the vulnerable.”
In fact, Biden has argued against DeSantis’ policies not only on his prohibition of local mask requirements, but also for a state law that forbids private businesses from attempting to require proof of vaccination from their customers.
“As of now, seven states not only ban mask mandates, but also ban them in their school districts, even for young children who cannot get vaccinated,” Biden said Tuesday. “Some states have even banned businesses and universities from requiring workers and students to be masked or vaccinated.”
“Look, we need leadership from everyone,” the president continued. “And if some governors aren’t willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it. I say to these governors, ‘Please, help.’ But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing.”
In response, DeSantis stated defiantly on Wednesday, “I am standing in your way” — not only on what he described as “coming after the rights of parents in Florida” on school mask mandates, but also on requiring vaccinations in either public or private settings.
"His vision is, just like in New York City, restaurants should ban young kids because they cannot be vaccinated,” Desantis claimed. “Law-abiding citizens have to show proof of their medical records to go to the gym or attend an event?”
(Also, DeSantis’ claim about children being excluded from restaurants in New York City is false — they would simply have to mask up.)