While his counterpart in New York shutters indoor dining, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) told Florida restaurateurs that he's "got their back." In West Palm Beach's Okeechobee Steakhouse this week, DeSantis, flanked by a group of restaurant owners, explained why he's resisted the lockdowns.
"If a local leader wants to put them out of work, you're damn right I'm going to hobble them from doing that," he told a group of reporters. "If they want to shut down businesses, I'm gonna stand in the way...I don't think government has a right to put these people out of work."
Theresa Hodgkon, a single mother of two children, fought back tears as she said she's "very blessed" to have a governor like DeSantis who's keeping them open because she would have "lost everything" if she had been shut down.
DeSantis has kept Florida open throughout most of the pandemic. New York, despite being largely locked down by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has tallied about 35,000 COVID related deaths, compared to Florida's 20,000.
DeSantis sparred with a WPTV reporter Michael Williams, who pressed him on why he hasn't enforced a mask mandate.
"What are the facts?" DeSantis replied, before providing them.
"We're in the bottom 10 states for per capita cases," DeSantis noted. "And this is with being open for months and months. So the question is why are cases exploding in California, why are hospitalizations exploding in other parts of the country, particularly states that have said they've done all these great restrictions and mandates. The mandates I don't think have been effective."