JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — During a budgetary overview on Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made remarks regarding COVID-19 and his position on COVID-19 related lockdowns.
This comes after a recently released White House Coronavirus Task Force report that recommended the closure of bars, restaurants and gyms in Florida due to a rise in hospitalizations from COVID-19.
While DeSantis did not specifically mention the White House Coronavirus Task Force report, he did double down on a stance he's maintained since reopening bars and restaurants post-shutdown in 2020.
"We believe every job is essential," he said. "You work in a restaurant, we have your back. If you are a hair stylist, we protect your right to earn a living and if you are a parent we ensure your kids have the right to in-person learning. Lockdowns do not work."
DeSantis said last December, the nation saw a net job loss while Florida added more than 20,000 new private-sector jobs. He mentioned that as of right now, the unemployment rate is also lower than the nation as a whole and also much lower than many of our peers.
"Florida led by focusing our vaccination efforts on our 65 and older population, we rejected recommendations that were not evidence-based, we put seniors first...," he said.
In March of 2020, DeSantis ordered the shutdown of bars and restaurants, causing great economic stress on the state's service industry. Now with federal officials calling for another shutdown, business owners have become frightened.
"Every Floridian has a right to work, all businesses have a right to operate and Florida is better for it," said DeSantis reassured during Thursday's news conference.
He said the 2021- 2022 budget only helps to exemplify Florida's strength in our "continued resolve in weathering this storm."
Overall, the total recommendation for the FY 2021-2022 budget is $96.6 billion. While this is an increase of $4.3 billion over the current fiscal year, $2.6 billion accounts for various expenditures related to the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response and its impacts on Floridians.
Due to the remaining uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget recommends over $1 billion in savings.