Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to introduce new legislation that would forever reject COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates in the Sunshine State.
If passed, the law will prohibit schools and private businesses from requiring masks or vaccination proof — measures that took hold in several parts of the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation would also shield medical doctors from being disciplined by their employers for expressing dissident views on the coronavirus vaccine and its safety.
DeSantis unveiled the new proposed legislation Tuesday, appearing with Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladopo to condemn COVID-related mandates.
Ladopo has vaulted to national prominence in recent months, routinely veering from the mainstream consensus on many issues related to the coronavirus and its mitigation.
“I think these permanent reforms are going to be very very good,” DeSantis said. “People will be able to have great peace of mind.”
The rising GOP leader said he expects some states to implement COVID vaccine mandates for children in order to attend school — and vowed to neutralize those efforts in Florida.
“You watch,” he said. “It’s going to happen. And I said you don’t have to worry about that as long as I’m governor.”
DeSantis has argued that his state’s less restrictive COVID-19 positions catalyzed an economic and population boom in recent years.
He has frequently reveled in highlighting that several Democratic politicians from “lockdown” states traveled to Florida for vacation as the pandemic raged.
“When the world lost its mind, Florida was a refuge of sanity, serving strongly as freedom’s linchpin,” DeSantis said in a statement. “These measures will ensure Florida remains this way and will provide landmark protections for free speech for medical practitioners.”
Considered a leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, DeSantis has stayed largely mum on any White House aspirations thus far.
DeSantis, 44, would have to vanquish 76-year-old former President Donald Trump en route to Washington, with the former president recently vowing to “handle” any challenge from his former ally in a potential clash for Republican supremacy.