Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images
- The White House recently bashed DeSantis over school reopenings and COVID treatments.
- DeSantis shot back, saying Psaki “lies through her teeth every single day.”
- He has been slamming the FDA for cutting off monoclonal antibodies.
MIAMI — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back at Jen Psaki on Wednesday, accusing the White House press secretary of “lying through her teeth every single day” after she chided Florida for being slow to apply for COVID-19 education funds.
“The White House press secretary stands in front of that podium and lies through her teeth every single day, and usually about the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at a press conference at Miami-Dade College.
DeSantis specifically called out Psaki for saying Florida hadn’t done enough to distribute money to help keep schools open during the latest COVID-19 wave.
“Are you kidding me? I remember them criticising me when we did this almost two years ago,” DeSantis said of Democrats who slammed his decision to open schools in the fall of 2020. “We were the only big state to have every school open for in person, and we did that way before Biden was even president. We didn’t need the Biden stimulus money for that.”
Florida was one of the only states to push schools to re-open in person during the coronavirus pandemic while others held only virtual classes, leading to frustrations between teacher’s unions, elected officials, and families. The topic has become a lighting rod issue ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, with Republicans seeing fewer COVID-19 restrictions as a winning message for bringing people to the polls.
Many Democrats facing reelection have come around to fewer restrictions, too, and the Biden administration has said schools should stay open despite the latest COVID-19 wave.
DeSantis is up for re-election in 2022 and is seen as a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 should former President Donald Trump choose not to make make another bid for the White House.
The governor often spars with the Biden administration over federal COVID-19 restrictions. DeSantis’ latest comments were part of a press conference aimed at bashing the Food and Drug Administration’s move to limit the use of monoclonal antibody treatment sites.
The drugs, made by Eli Lilly and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, are proteins that copy the immune system’s response to fighting off viruses. Initially effective, the FDA said the treatments aren’t working against the Omicron COVID-19 strain that has permeated the US and caused Florida’s infection and hospitalization rates to spike. Eli Lilly also has said “it is not medically appropriate, at this time” to use the treatment for people with mild or moderate cases of the virus.
DeSantis has conducted numerous events promoting the antibodies while, lately, downplaying the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. (DeSantis, like all US governors, is himself vaccinated.)
On Tuesday, Psaki slammed the governor for pushing back on the FDA’s decision to recommend states not use monoclonal antibodies that aren’t aren’t effective against Omicron. After the recommendation, the US Department of Health and Human Services stopped the drug shipments to states.
“Well, let’s just take a step back here just to realize how crazy this is,” Psaki told reporters during a Tuesday press briefing. “These treatments — the ones that they are fighting over, that the governor’s fighting over — do not work against Omicron, and they have side effects. That is what the scientists are saying.”
The FDA’s statement, issued Monday, said the treatments were “highly unlikely to be effective” against Omicron and only recommends them “when the patient is likely to have been infected with or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments.” The Omicron variant is estimated to account for more than 99% of US cases of COVID-19, the statement said.
DeSantis raised Psaki’s remarks at his press conference Wednesday and argued that doctors don’t always know what strain of COVID-19 patients have. He said it was “not true” and “just a lie” that the drugs had serious side effects, though the FDA has said side effects can be “potentially serious” such as by causing a rash or allergic reaction.
“This is a big mistake what they have done,” DeSantis said. “Obviously they have got a lot of other problems, let’s just be honest. This has not been a great show over the last year.”