Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) disagreed with America’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on Friday, saying he doesn’t think his state reopened too early.
“I think there was really no justification to not move forward,” DeSantis said according to The South Florida Sun Sentinel while discussing reopening phases of the state.
His defense comes amid criticism of the state as it sees climbing coronavirus cases, and also follows Fauci saying on FiveThirtyEight’s weekly “PODCAST-19” that he thought the state rushed through reopening phases.
“Despite the guidelines and the recommendations to open up carefully and prudently, some states skipped over those and just opened up too quickly,” Fauci said on the podcast. “Certainly Florida … I think jumped over a couple of checkpoints.”
Fauci also told The Hill that hard-hit states should not be moving forward with reopening.
“I would think we need to get the states pausing in their opening process, looking at what did not work well and try to mitigate that,” Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told The Hill’s Steve Clemons. “I don’t think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down.”
Florida again shattered records this week, hitting a high for its recorded number of coronavirus deaths on Thursday. It reported 120 new deaths as the state has quickly become one of the world’s epicenters for the virus.
Florida was one of the last states to impose a stay-at-home order, and one of the first to reopen.
DeSantis has encouraged Floridians to stay home and to practice hand-washing, mask use and social distancing, but has said he will not go back on reopening.
“We’re open. We know who we need to protect. Most of the folks in those younger demographics, although we want them to be mindful of what’s going on, are just simply much much less at risk than the folks who are in those older age groups,” he said late last month.