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DeSantis defends maskless crowds after Buccaneers win amid COVID-19 concerns

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisClub for Growth endorses DeSantis reelection bid De Santis's cruise line battle shows contempt for public health federalism DeSantis signs bill making to-go alcohol sales permanent in Florida MORE (R) attacked the media for what he said was a double standard with how large marches for social justice were covered as opposed to celebrations in Tampa following the Buccaneers' Super Bowl win. 

"The media is worried about that, obviously," DeSantis said Wednesday of scenes of massive celebrations across Tampa that showed hundreds of fans maskless while crowded together in streets and bars on Sunday night. 

"You don't care as much if it's a 'peaceful protest' ... and then it's fine," DeSantis continued. "You don't care as much if they're celebrating a Biden election. You only care about it if it's people you don't like. I'm a Bucs fan. I'm damn proud of what they did on Sunday night."

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Local health officials and Tampa's mayor said she was greatly concerned after seeing the celebrations on Sunday night. 

“It is a little frustrating because we have worked so hard,” Mayor Jane Castor (D) said the next day. “At this point in dealing with COVID-19, there is a level of frustration when you see that.”

DeSantis also found himself at the center of a controversy this week stemming from a photo taken of him at the game on Sunday night that shows him sitting in an indoor executive suite without a mask, seated less than six feet from the person next to him. 

DeSantis first addressed the controversy over the photo earlier in the week. 

"Someone said, 'Hey, you were at the Super Bowl without a mask,'" he said Monday. "But how the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on? Come on. I had to watch the Bucs win."

DeSantis regularly attacks media members for their coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the state. He has also downplayed the efficacy of mask wearing and has resisted statewide lockdown measures. 

As a it relates to a new coronavirus variant found in several states across the country, including Florida, DeSantis said he is confident vaccines will work against the mutated strain. 

"We have not seen any data or any evidence to suggest that these vaccines are not effective," he said. "So if we get the seniors vaccinated, we're going to be good."