Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has started offering branded merchandise featuring slogans like “Don’t Fauci My Florida,” in a reference to the COVID-19 restrictions endorsed by infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, The Washington Post reports.
DeSantis’ campaign store now features several items with this slogan and similar ones, such as flags with the slogan, “Keep Florida Free,” and a drink koozie that says, “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”
Fauci and other medical experts recommended that Americans wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic, but the issue became a partisan sticking point, with many conservatives pushing back on mask requirements and other safety recommendations.
During the pandemic, DeSantis refused to close the state’s beaches, refused to order widespread mask requirements, and made Florida one of the first states to remove all local coronavirus-related restrictions back in May. He also successfully sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after the agency tried to add restrictions on Florida cruise ships.
The governor told reporters this week that he predicts a “normal school year” without any mask mandates, and said there would be no penalties for people who violate a mandate imposed by a school district.
“No mandates for anything,” DeSantis said on Tuesday, according to WPTV. “I think it’s very unfair for some of the youngest kids who are the least susceptible, least likely to spread it, that they have the mitigation imposed on them more severely than a lot of adults do.”
As of July, Florida has reported about 2.4 million COVID-19 cases and more than 38,000 deaths. The state recently experienced a spike in new cases and a decline in the number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the last few weeks.