Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) slammed President Joe Biden during an interview on Sunday for allegedly allowing illegal aliens to enter the U.S. without being screened for COVID-19 while reportedly considering implementing domestic travel restrictions between states.
DeSantis said that potential domestic travel restrictions placed on Florida by the Biden administration would amount to a “political attack against Florida” and “would be unconstitutional.”
“Florida schools have been open the whole school year,” DeSantis said. “Every parent in Florida has the right to send their child to in-person instruction, every worker has a right to work and earn a living and put food on the table, and every business has a right to operate.”
“And, consequently, our state is doing very well compared to these other states in terms of education and economy. But we also have 26 other states and the District of Columbia that have higher per capita COVID mortality than we do. We have 28 states that have higher per capita cases than we do for the bulk of the pandemic,” he continued. “And if you look right now, states that are always held up by people in Biden’s administration, like New York, have way higher per capita patients hospitalized for COVID right now. So, there’s no basis in medical, there’s no basis in economics, there’s no basis in reality to do this, except to punish a state that is doing it better than what his experts have recommended.”
When asked about reports indicating that the Biden administration is not screening illegal aliens for COVID-19, DeSantis said that it was “all political.”
“So, he’s opening the border. He’s letting illegals pour in. They’re not doing any COVID tests. They’re just coming into the communities,” DeSantis said. “We have no idea what type of COVID or other things [they] may be carrying, but yet he wants to potentially make you take a test if you just get on an airplane and fly from one American city to the next, or he wants to prevent travel to the state of Florida?”
“This stinks to high heaven. It is a huge contradiction. And you can’t square wanting [to] open … borders for illegal aliens, but then also restricting U.S. citizens from basically traveling around the country as they see fit,” DeSantis said. “And I think the American people see the hypocrisy in that.”
Transcript provided by Fox News:
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Worries this morning of a potential domestic travel ban.
Reports the Biden administration is considering restrictions between states due to the new outbreaks of the highly contagious new strains of COVID-19.
Joining me right now is the governor of the state many people have been flocking to, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.
Governor, it’s great to have you this morning. Thanks very much for being here.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Good morning.
BARTIROMO: Florida has been the number one destination currently searched on the Travelzoo website. What would a travel ban domestically mean for Florida?
DESANTIS: Well, one, it would be unconstitutional. It would be a political attack against Florida.
If you look, Maria, right now, you hear this debate over schools. Florida schools have been open the whole school year. We have — every parent in Florida has the right to send their child to in-person instruction. Every worker has a right to work and earn a living and put food on the table. And every business has a right to operate.
And, consequently, our state is doing very well compared to these other states in terms of education and economy. But we also have 26 other states and the District of Columbia that have higher per capita COVID mortality than we do. We have 28 states that have higher per capita cases than we do for the bulk of the pandemic.
And if you look right now, states that are always held up by people in Biden’s administration, like New York, have way higher per capita patients hospitalized for COVID right now. So, there’s no basis in medical, there’s no basis in economics, there’s no basis in reality to do this, except to punish a state that is doing it better than what his experts have recommended.
Biden is a lockdowner. His advisers are lockdowners. Lockdowns don’t work. We’ve demonstrated that. We’re not turning back, Maria. And they will not be able to get away with targeting Florida.
BARTIROMO: Florida has been open for several months. And you have prioritized seniors; you have prioritized ensuring that kids are in school.
Assess the situation in Florida over the last year. I know home construction is up, home sales are up. Economic growth, how is Florida doing?
DESANTIS: Well, as you can imagine, March, April, when everything was grinding to a halt, I mean, we had a lot of problems, like anyone, particularly because tourism stopped.
But, since then, we now have an unemployment rate that is significantly less than the national average. We had 25 percent increase in home sales year over year 2019 to 2020. If you look at the top 25 places where new home construction is taking place at the highest levels, a plurality of those are in Florida.
I think we have six or seven of the communities. The number one place in the country for new home construction by far is The Villages retirement community, which has thrived during the pandemic, even though, of course, seniors are more vulnerable to COVID than the bulk of the population.
So, we have a lot of great trends. And I would also say, Maria, you have lockdown states that are putting people out of business. We focused on lifting people up. But, by doing that, you actually have new entrepreneurs coming to start new ventures. New restaurants are opening in Florida. New hotels are opening in Florida.
And so people view Florida as a place where they can follow their dreams. It is a free state. We are doing a lot to focus on protecting elderly people from COVID. We have vaccinated, I think, about 1.75 million seniors so far. About 40 percent of all seniors in Florida have gotten a shot.
We’re doing it every day, continuing until we get all the seniors who want a shot get a shot. So, there’s a whole bunch of things we have been doing for COVID. But, at the same time, we have lifted our state up, we have saved our economy, and I think we’re going to be first out of the gate once we’re able to put COVID behind our country.
BARTIROMO: What about this concern about the new strains?
Nearly 350 cases of the contagious COVID variant have been reported in Florida. Governor, how do you read that? Is there a reason for concern here?
DESANTIS: So, first of all, well, we obviously look at all the data that comes in.
But this strain is in blue states. And they don’t talk about doing anything with blue states. We do a lot of analysis and genetic analysis on strains. So, we find more than probably some other states do.
But here’s the thing. Since the beginning of January, visits to the emergency departments for COVID-like illness in Florida is down over 60 percent. Cases are down. Hospital census is down 30 to 40 percent. And so you have seen a decline in COVID in Florida. And our winter high was much less than the summer high.
But you have seen a decline all over the country. And so it’d be very odd to do a draconian travel restriction, which has no basis in the Constitution, at a time when all of these indicators are going down.
And we really believe, by focusing on seniors first for vaccinations, we’re going to be creating a protective shield for our vulnerable population, so that if the season changes, and you start to see virus increase anywhere, that our vulnerable population will be protected.
At the end of the day, that’s really what matters.
DESANTIS: If you’re not really vulnerable to this, then that’s not as significant as somebody who has comorbidities or is very elderly.
And so we’re trying to focus our resources where the risk is, and I think that’s the appropriate way to do it.
BARTIROMO: Right. You have been adapting to this. We have to live with it.
I want to take a short break, but I want to get your take on where this is going and your expectations, also your pushback on big tech.
We’re talking with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as we look ahead on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
We will be right back.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
We are back with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Governor, we are talking about the potential for a domestic ban on travel. And some people are saying this is a contradiction to what we have been hearing from President Biden because of his open border policy. They’re now talking about screening domestic travelers.
But The New York Times has reported that illegals are not being screened for COVID at the Texas border. Your reaction to these executive orders?
DESANTIS: Of course they’re not being screened for COVID at the southern border, because this is all political.
So, he’s opening the border. He’s letting illegals pour in. They’re not doing any COVID tests. They’re just coming into the communities. We have no idea what type of COVID or other things they may be carrying, but yet he wants to potentially make you take a test if you just get on an airplane and fly from one American city to the next, or he wants to prevent travel to the state of Florida?
This stinks to high heaven. It is a huge contradiction. And you can’t square wanting open — opening borders for illegal aliens, but then also restricting U.S. citizens from basically traveling around the country as they see fit.
And I think the American people see the hypocrisy in that.
BARTIROMO: Well, look, you have said from the beginning that you want to prioritize where the hurt is hitting most. And that is seniors.
What is your reaction to the story unfolding in New York? We will talk with Congressman Lee Zeldin coming up, congressman from New York.
But your reaction to Governor Cuomo, his aide admitting that New York actually hid the data, hid the data of the number of deaths in nursing homes due to COVID?
DESANTIS: Well, I think that that was something that people knew months ago. I mean, the media just had different narratives.
They have actually accused Florida of doing things with data without any evidence for that. And there’s been no evidence that’s come to light with respect to Florida.
But I will say one of the most important decisions that all the governors had to make at the outset of this is, how do you treat the nursing homes? There were a lot of people saying you needed to get nursing home patients out of hospitals, send them back to nursing homes, so that you could clear hospital beds.
In Florida, we did the opposite. We said, you cannot discharge a COVID-positive patient from a hospital back to a nursing home, because we were worried that it would spread in the nursing home and you would have more deaths in the nursing home for these vulnerable seniors.
And I said, I think we’re going to have enough hospital space. But if we don’t, I will build field hospitals all over the state of Florida before I throw our elderly people to the wolves. And so we were very strong on that. I think that was the right decision. And I think it’s been borne out to be the case as well.
BARTIROMO: Well, you also have this distribution debate happening.
This week, President Biden said that President Trump did not do his job on COVID vaccination programs. Who is really to blame for the rollout issues? I know that Florida has become the number one state per capita for actual doses being administered.
DESANTIS: So, look, the Warp Speed did a great job.
And this is a very difficult situation, when you have this amount of logistics. And I can tell you, we wish we have had more vaccine every week, but it’s just being produced. And so, as the production increases, you will get more.
But every time they had a shipment from the middle of December until the present, it’s shown up where it was supposed to be. So, I think, by and large, the Warp Speed team did a great job.
Now, if we get more Pfizer, if we get more Moderna, if we get the Johnson & Johnson, we’re going to be able to scale this up even further. So, we’re hoping that that’s happening.
So, what I would say is, stop blaming your predecessor. Stop playing politics. Let’s work together to figure out how we increase the number of doses available. And we can get those shots in the arms.
I will tell you, Florida and other states have done a good job. The hospitals, their machines down here now, we have other test sites, drive-through sites. We have them in retail pharmacies and supermarkets and in Walmart.
And so you have a big infrastructure available. If you increase the doses available to the states, you’re going to get even more shots in arms.
BARTIROMO: Governor, let me let me ask you.
You are now on the front lines. Many people say it’s the states that are on the front lines in terms of pushing back on these executive orders coming out of the Biden administration. We know what the A.G. of Texas is doing, suing the administration to stop the deportation freeze.
And we know a bit about what you’re doing, pushing back on big tech. Talk to us about Florida’s fight against big tech, the conservative cancel culture that we were talking about in the first segment with Congressman Jim Jordan and Alan Dershowitz.
What can Florida’s state legislature do to hold big tech accountable? What are your plans?
DESANTIS: I think we could do a lot.
One, we can support Floridians’ data privacy. Maria, if you buy a phone, you think you paid the money, you have the phone, and that’s the end of it. They are constantly pulling data off your phone. They’re selling it. They make hundreds of billions of dollars a year on that.
Consumers should have the right to opt out of that and they shouldn’t have their data taken without their consent. We also don’t want big tech interfering in our elections, whether that means deplatforming a candidate, like they did to President Trump, or whether they’re suppressing information, like they did with the Hunter Biden story.
So, we want our elections in Florida to be free from that. And we have penalties if big tech tries to meddle. And then deplatforming and censorship — they put themselves out as these open platforms. And they have always — these terms of service, they’re always changing them. They don’t apply it fairly across the political spectrum.
That, for us, is considered, we think, a consumer fraud. So, we’re authorizing suits, under our consumer fraud statute, to be able for individual Floridians to bring against big tech if they get censored or deplatformed and our state attorney general to do it as well.
So, they need to be held accountable. They have way, way too much power. They’re not using it in a way that is constructive for our society. So, I think Florida is leading. I think we have had a lot of interest from other states, because you’re going to be a lot of other states, I think, follow Florida’s lead.
You do need to do some of the things federally like you talked with Jimmy Jordan about in the previous segment, whether that’s antitrust or Section 230. But there is a lot the states can do. And we’re going to continue to pursue that in the state of Florida.
BARTIROMO: You are also pursuing something along the lines of the rule of law when it — as it relates to rioting, right?
You had mentioned that the last time we spoke you were going to do something this upcoming March.
DESANTIS: Yes, so the legislature meets March 2. And we’re going to have the strongest anti-looting and anti-rioting legislation in the country.
It’s going to apply regardless of why you’re rioting. I don’t care which team you’re on. We’re going to stand for the rule of law in the state of Florida. But if you are doing things like looting, if you’re assaulting cops, if you’re doing all these things that we saw over the summer in many cities in the country, in Florida, you’re going to jail for that.
We are not going to tolerate it.
DESANTIS: And we look forward to passing that. And I think it’ll be good for the state.
BARTIROMO: Governor, it’s good to see you this morning. Thanks very much.
We will be following up. And we will see you soon.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, thank you.