JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Amid a growing national concern over the COVID-19 omicron variant, Florida Governor DeSantis says the state will not be issuing any lockdowns or restrictions.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, the lockdowns didn't stop COVID...," said DeSantis at a news conference in Orlando Monday.
The governor says the lockdown policies have not worked in the past to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and have had lasting impacts on the economic wellbeing of the state and it's industries.
"In Florida, we will not let them lock you down, we will not let them take your jobs, we will not let them harm your businesses, we will not let them close your schools," he said.
Earlier in the afternoon, President Joe Biden called the new COVID-19 variant omicron a cause for concern but “not a cause for panic" and said he was not also considering any widespread U.S. lockdowns.
The new coronavirus variant was first detected in South Africa, with some reports indicating that it's made its way to Canada. The United States responded last week by banning travel from South Africa and seven other African nations by non-US citizens starting Monday.
"We have to take a step back and acknowledge that those travel extreme restrictions just didn't work, the virus had already spread," DeSantis said, referencing the initial wave of travel bans relating to the Delta variant. "So whatever this variant is, the fact that you identify some in Southern Africa, that does not mean that it's not in any corner of the globe. It's an airborne respiratory virus. So I think those restrictions are not going to work."
DeSantis said the ban on flights is a 'knee-jerk reaction' to something that we don't even have meaningful data on yet.
In March 2020, during the height of the pandemic, DeSantis also praised then-President Donald Trump's administration's to restrict air travel on foreign visitors from most of Europe. Although at that time, far less was known about ways the virus spreads.
Global health officials are concerned after determining the new variant has characteristics to be as transmissible as delta and possibly antibody resistant, as well.
DeSantis claims Florida currently has the lowest rate of COVID-19 in the country for over a month, and that the hospitalization rates have been drastically reduced since the influx we were seeing back in August.
"If you look at Florida, we've had the lowest COVID in the country for over a month now and one of the lowest for quite a while," DeSantis said.
According to a report from Fox 35 Orlando, the state is reporting the lowest amount of COVID-19 cases per capita. This data is supported by the steady decline in positive statewide COVID tests, from 8.4% on Sept. 29 to just 2.6% on Nov. 19.