The president took aim Tuesday at local officials, including the governors of Florida and Texas, over laws that prevented public health measures in the wake of surging COVID-19 cases.
“I say to these governors: please help, but you aren’t going to help at least get out of the way,” President Joe Biden said. “The people are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”
Biden called out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, states which Biden said account for one-third of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
“And worst of all, some state officials are passing laws or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing. As of now, seven states not only banned mask mandates, but also banned them in their school districts, even for young children who cannot get vaccinated,” Biden said.
Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday that banned mask mandates and other operating mandates in Texas.
“They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities,” Abbott said in a statement about the order Thursday. “Vaccines, which remain in abundant supply, are the most effective defense against the virus, and they will always remain voluntary — never forced — in the State of Texas.”