Nov 4, 2021
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Criticizes Federal Vaccine Mandate Guidance: Press Conference Transcript
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference on November 4, 2021. He criticized President Biden’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Read the transcript of the full briefing here.
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Ron DeSantis: (00:07)
Well, good afternoon. A year and a half ago, we started with 15 days to slow the spread and now it’s gone to get jabbed or lose your job. And today’s OSHA rule, very long time coming. We were waiting for it, that was issued. If you look at it, here it is. It’s almost 500 pages. And so we’re supposed to be a government of laws, not a government of men. This is 500 pages of a government of a bureaucracy, a government that is being run by executive edict, not in accordance with the typical constitutional processes. And the State of Florida’s going to respond and we will combat the OSHA rule. As soon as it’s published, the State of Florida will be joining with Georgia and Alabama as well as private plaintiffs to file suit. This is a rule that is not consistent with the Constitution and is not legally authorized through Congressional statutes.
Ron DeSantis: (01:04)
There is no federal police power. The federal government can’t just unilaterally impose medical policy under the guise of workplace regulation. And that is exactly what they’re trying to do here. They don’t provide any instances why the workplace is somehow different than anything else that’s been done with any of this. This is an attempt to shoehorn policy through the bureaucracy in a way that will be difficult for some of these individuals and private parties to resist. I think it’s interesting that this is being done under the guise of emergency power. This was announced two months ago and it said, “This is an emergency and a grave danger is facing.” Then why did it take you two months to issue the rule? And then, of course, the rule doesn’t take effect until January, which is convenient because it’ll minimize workforce disruptions over the holiday season, which we know we’re likely to see anyways, and then this would only exacerbate that.
Ron DeSantis: (02:06)
So this is not consistent with a government of limited and enumerated powers. There is no general police power. There’s no power to mandate on the American people from the federal government. People will sometimes point out about state mandates and how those have been imposed through the years and the constitutionality has been upheld. States clearly have a general police power. Whatever the wisdom of a particular mandate it is, it’s much different when the federal government is imposing that on tens of millions of Americans, particularly without any legislative sanction. At the end of the day, individuals should make informed choices about their own healthcare. They shouldn’t be coerced into getting a jab. In this situation, you’re going to have people that are going to have to make that decision, do you get fired from your job or do you do this if this may be something that you don’t think is something that you want to do?
Ron DeSantis: (03:00)
And just to be clear with what OSHA’s doing, they’re clearly not doing science because they reject immunity through prior infection. They reject the Israel study and all the very strong studies that have come out that show people that have recovered from COVID have strong protection. They totally cast that aside and they make no accommodation or acknowledgement of that in any way, shape, or form. But ultimately, people should be able to make these decisions. I don’t think people want this decision yanked away from them. I don’t think they want to allow a precedent where the federal government could come in and just force you to do what it wants you to do. And make no mistake about it, those individuals who have been gone through a normal vaccination series for COVID, you will be determined to be unvaccinated very soon. They will do that. They are going to tell you, “You’re unvaccinated and you have to get a booster. Otherwise, you could potentially face loss of employment or other types of penalties.”
Ron DeSantis: (03:58)
So that is going to happen. They’re not putting that in the rule, but they’re already asking for feedback on how to do this going forward. So this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to get more restrictive. There’s going to be more power brought to bear going forward if we don’t stand up now and fight back. I just think people are so sick of constantly be being bossed around, restricted, mandated, all these different things. We’ve had enough of it and we want people to be able to make their own decisions. So it is important to stand up for people’s individual ability to make decisions for themselves. I also think it’s just the constitutionality is very significant. The individual freedom very significant. But put those even aside, what’s the practical result of this?
Ron DeSantis: (04:46)
The practical result of this is, this is going to exacerbate a lot of the existing problems that we’re seeing with the economy, particularly as it relates to the supply chain, the ability to get goods to market. This is not going to help the inflation that we you’ve seen in the economy, I could tell you that. It is definitely not going to help making sure that the shelves are stocked in stores around this country. If you just take a very small fraction of, say, truckers and that they lose their jobs as a result of this, that is going to be catastrophic and you’re going to see ripple effects throughout the entire economy. And then just from another practical perspective, they actually say in the rule, “Unvaccinated people are at risk because vaccinated people can get and transmit the Delta variant.”
Ron DeSantis: (05:36)
And I think that is true, but how is it better for an unvaccinated person to fired from their job? Do you think the first thing they’re going to do is run out and get the jab after they’ve already been fired over it? Of course, they’re not going to do that. I don’t even see how this moves the needle in a positive direction for those folks. So this is going to cause more economic pain and I think it’s going to end up being a huge mistake. We need more people to fill a lot of these key positions, certainly in Florida and I think in other parts of the country as well. This is only going to make it even more difficult. So the State of Florida will be filing the lawsuit, which is very, very important, and I know there will be other states that are doing it in other courts of appeals. Because it’s an OSHA challenge, it goes directly to the 11th Circuit. And so we’re going to be asking for a stay of this rule, which we think is very, very important.
Ron DeSantis: (06:28)
And then, of course, we’re going to be having a special legislative session starting a week from Monday and we want to provide protections for individual employees in the State of Florida. They should not be getting fired over this. We want to make sure that that’s something that’s abundantly clear. We’re also going to look at ways to be able to provide protections for businesses who may be subjected to potentially very harsh penalties. They’re going to fine people $14,000 per every single infraction. I don’t know how they’re going to enforce this. They’re certainly not going to be able to enforce it in a way that is even handed. And I think there’s going to be huge problems with just administerability. But $14,000, if you have a half dozen people and you’re supposed to maintain, the employers actually supposed to maintain these medical records now, so you thought you just went to the job and did your job, clocked out and went home and went about your business.
Ron DeSantis: (07:23)
Now, your employer is going to be in charge of making sure that they have your medical records on file for this stuff. Is that really the direction that we want to go? Is that the type of economy that we want to have? I don’t think so. So we are going to be able to do, we need to do, legislative response as well. And I think that that’s something that will be I think even more so when a lot of people that have been very concerned about this, even apart from this mandate, because there are large companies who are trying to do this anyways, and people are very concerned about it and this is something that hits very close to home for people. We called the legislative session. There was a lot of people that were happy about that, but I think now more people are understanding this is something that needed to be done. I mean, we’ve got to stand up. We’ve got to stand up for the constitutional order.
Ron DeSantis: (08:13)
We’ve got to stand up for the rights of individual Floridians and Americans and we need to try to avoid bad policy that’s going to end up hindering an already problematic national economy. And certainly in Florida, we’ve been able to buck some of those trends, but there’s a lot of storms on the horizon. So why would we want to exacerbate that? So, for all those reasons, I think people are really excited to come back here and to be able to make sure that the people of Florida have their voice heard on this. I’ve gone through a lot of it. I’ve seen some stuff. There’s some interesting nuggets in here. We’re going to go through some more and make sure that folks are understanding what’s here. But they are asking for input about how much further they could go in the future. So I just want to warn people, as far reaching as this is, this is only the beginning for what they’re contemplating doing going forward.
Ron DeSantis: (09:08)
And so there’s a massive amount of federal power being exercised here not through legislative sanction. Certainly, that doesn’t flow directly from the enumerated powers in the Constitution. This is coming from a federal agency, which is certainly not an agency that has ever been tasked with doing things like respiratory viruses. And so this is really, really significant and I think it’s a huge mistake, but I’m confident that this is not something that’s ultimately going to pass constitutional muster. So we’ll stand up, we’ll stand up for the Constitution. We’ll stand up for people’s rights. We’ll stand up for people’s jobs. And I think that you will see this put on hold relatively quickly as these cases start to get filed. With that, I could take a couple questions. Mike?
Governor, what do you think is your best chance [inaudible 00:10:02]?
Ron DeSantis: (10:02)
I think they’re a combination. I don’t think that as elected officials we can just subcontract out people’s freedoms to courts, because courts don’t always come through when they need to come through. So we have a responsibility regardless of what the courts would do to protect people. But I will say, I think this is so far beyond what we’ve ever seen before that we get this up in the 11th Circuit. I think we have a very, very high chance of success, certainly in front of the whole court. If we get a non-bonk hearing. Of course, as you get these panels, it determines what kind of judge you get, and you may get different. But I think, ultimately, we will. I think they’ll win in the Fifth Circuit. I think we’re also seeing challenges in the Sixth and the Eighth and I would anticipate that, and I think you’re going to see a lot of adverse rulings on this and it will eventually go to the U.S. Supreme Court. I think that’s clear. Yes, sir. (silence).
Ron DeSantis: (11:08)
Well, definitely, our state will not be facilitating this in any respect. Of course. I mean, we don’t believe it’s constitutional. So I wouldn’t even need to do an executive order, but if I need to, I will, because it just simply goes beyond what the federal government’s authority is. And so, that’s what we’ll do. We also want to provide protections for businesses who may get caught in the cross hairs here. We could get this thing enjoined pretty quickly on a preliminary basis. That could happen. But by the time we meet for special session, who knows, it’s possible there’s action. It’s possible that there hasn’t been yet. So we will have a responsibility legislatively, but that ultimately is the best power. Unilaterally, what you can do, really you’re limited in executive action. During COVID, when people were using emergency, I mean, I think those powers were abused, but that was the guise of it.
Ron DeSantis: (11:58)
Outside of that, you can’t do executive orders against society as a whole, and I think that’s part of the problem with this, is this is not just applying to government. This is using a totally different subsection of law and authority to try to shoehorn in policy against the broader public. And I think that’s why it’s ultimately going to go down. But we in Florida, we need the legislature. I mean, they need to come in and they need to do this because that’s how you do it consistent with the rule of law. It’s not just executives issuing edicts against society, whether they’re even valid in this emergency, I think it went way beyond what it should have. But clearly, if you’re not in an emergency situation, you don’t have the ability to do it. The idea that this is an emergency after most of these people have been working for a year and a half straight, most of these people, the people in the trucking and logistics and all this stuff, they’ve kept society going for a year and a half.
Ron DeSantis: (12:53)
And now all of a sudden you’re saying this is an emergency and that you take two months to do the rule, that it’s so emergent that you couldn’t even just turn this around quickly. So you do it in two months and then you’re saying it doesn’t apply for another two months. That’s not emergency. That’s them trying to make policy without having to go through the proper channels through the Congress, because they know they wouldn’t be able to enact this if they went through the Congress.
Speaker 3: (13:40)
Governor, can I ask a question on [inaudible 00:13:45].
Ron DeSantis: (13:44)
When did I step back from that?
Speaker 3: (13:47)
Ron DeSantis: (13:50)
No, it says we’re preventing people from being unfairly discriminated. That absolutely could be inappropriate. That’s a penalty, that if you discriminate, then you lose, because some of the private folks will say, “Hey, it’s private business. You can do whatever you want.” And I say to myself, “Okay, well, that’s weird because you came to us asking for special protection from COVID liability. We granted that. So if you don’t want any of that, then that’s fine. You can do that.” So that would still be something that I think would be appropriate. I don’t think you need to do that, quite frankly. I think you could do it before. But nobody should be fired over this. And so I think that’s pretty blanket to me to say that you shouldn’t be fired over this issue, particularly for people that have been working throughout this whole time.
Ron DeSantis: (14:35)
The CMS rule also came out. We’re going to oppose that as well. That’s going to apply to a lot of the hospital folks, nurses and stuff. If you guys remember, the first people we provided the vaccine to in December were nursing home residents and then healthcare workers. So we were bringing it to these major hospital systems like Jackson and Tampa General, all these places. And some of the nurses declined to do it. Others took it. That was their choice. No one said at the time that they should be mandated to it. Now what you’re going to see is a situation, they’ve worked with COVID patients for a year and a half. Many of them have immunity through prior infection. They’re going to be told, “You’re going to lose now your job if you don’t make this decision that we think is best for you, even though you may not think that.” How is that going to help with staffing these facilities when everybody’s been short staffed now for a year and a half?
Ron DeSantis: (15:29)
That is going to have a hugely negative effect. Even if it’s just a small percentage, you’re going to have some serious, serious problems. And so I think that protecting people’s jobs, from a freedom perspective, certainly vis-a-vis the federal government from a constitutional perspective, but I think just practically, you’re going to see all the stuff that’s being done. You’re going to see it. It’s going to cause a lot of friction. It’s going to cause a lot of division in our society, it already has, and it is absolutely going to disrupt very, very key aspects of our economy from healthcare to logistics, transportation. I mean, we’ve already seen with these airlines and some of those situations. It’s also interesting. if you read, if you look at this rule, there are certain exemptions that they put in. They don’t apply it, for example, if you work outside.
Ron DeSantis: (16:21)
Now, I think it’s clear this thing is not something that’s very transmissible outside for whatever reason, but they don’t have that same in the federal contractor rule. So is the science different if you’re subject to OSHA versus if you’re a federal contractor? How come they have so much dissonance about what’s in each of these individual rules? Clearly, it can’t be based on the science then, because the science wouldn’t change based on which agency is issuing this. But this is materially different in certain key ways from what the rule for the federal contractors is. And I would imagine, if we look at the CMS, we’ll be able to find some inconsistencies in those rules as well. So to slop something together and to do this, this is going to affect tens of millions of Americans.
Ron DeSantis: (17:06)
And they’re in a situation where they’ve said, “Well, you actually can test every week and to opt out of this,” but they say that the employer doesn’t have to pay for it. So you’re in a situation where an employee who may not be making that much money, are they going to have to be responsible for doing this? Because if an employer isn’t going to pick up the tab, functionally, that is the same as saying that the individual’s no longer have their job. So let’s just get real here, this is going to be significant impediment I think to the economy functioning well.
Speaker 4: (17:43)
[inaudible 00:17:43] now they have the federal government breathing down their neck, how do you envision they would navigate a scenario like that where they’re stuck in between [crosstalk 00:17:56]?
Ron DeSantis: (17:55)
Well we’re, we are interested in using some of our resources to potentially provide a defense fund for some of these fines. Like I said, they’re not going to be able to enforce this uniformly because you’re talking about, not every business because they have 100 employee limit, although they are asking, should they do it to the smaller ones too? And I think that would probably come if we were to roll over on this. So I think there’s ways that we can create some support to be able to basically pay some of these fines off. I think we can get this thing enjoined in the meantime. But yeah, I mean, we want them to follow Florida law and we understand if there’s conflicts there, we want to smooth those conflicts out. But what we don’t want is our law to be jettisoned and people to get fired based off this federal rule. We want to be able to protect the jobs of Floridians and make sure that their livelihoods are intact.
Ron DeSantis: (18:52)
I mean, we’ve had some of the folks with the federal contractor, we had a fellow who’s got a business, he’s visually impaired, he serves visually impaired people. I mean, his business will just shut down if that’s gone in. And there’s a whole bunch of stories around about people and, again, they’re not recognizing people that have recovered from COVID. They’re really not recognizing the full range of health concerns that people may have. And it’s like, why are you doing this? And so we’re going to continue to fight it.
Speaker 4: (19:25)
Ron DeSantis: (19:31)
What I put in the calls, what we’re tracking, I know they’re working on stuff, I haven’t seen the language, but we don’t want people to get fired based off this. We want to protect people’s jobs. That’s very important. And that’s private sector and public sector. Now, the public sector, because we already have prohibitions, we think that that’s covered. Although, we’ve now had to fine some people so I think we’re going to strengthen that to make sure cops, firefighters, that that’s totally off the table. I mean, it pretty much is. We’ve been able to fight back on that, but let’s just clarify that and make sure. We’re going to make sure that if an employer, say they follow the OSHA rule and someone were to lose their job, there obviously would be penalties on the employer for that if they violate our law, but unemployment insistence, at the end of the day, you should be able to get that.
Ron DeSantis: (20:23)
If you are injured due to vaccine, then you’re eligible for Workers’ Compensation. I think that that’s something if the employer is telling you to do this and you do it and then you have an adverse reaction, obviously, someone, the people, they should have to pick up the tab. So there’s a lot of different things in that regard. We are going to also address the Parents’ Bill of Rights. I think it was a good piece of legislation, but it wasn’t drafted with the understanding that you’d have subordinate government boards like school boards to just say the hell with the law and do whatever they want. And so that’s a problem because the Department of Education took away the school board member’s salaries, which I think was appropriate. But at the end of the day, the federal government just sends them more money. And so that wasn’t effective tease.
Ron DeSantis: (21:08)
So what you need to do is, if the parent’s rights are being violated, then the parent can go in and vindicate that with a private lawsuit. And if they win, they get the attorney’s fees against the school board. That’s the best way to enforce it. Not to have it enforced through some administrative way. So, we’re going to be seeking that. We’re going to make sure that’s clarified exactly what the parents’ rights are vis-a-vis these school boards. And, of course, you’ve seen these are, these are huge issues throughout the country because these boards have taken a lot of power away from parents, and in Florida, we really want to be empowering the parent. So we’re going to be looking at doing all of those things. I don’t know if it’s going to be necessary. Probably not, but I’ve been very clear about COVID vaccine mandates for school children are not allowed in the State of Florida. We’re not going to have that mandated. That is a parent’s choice.
Ron DeSantis: (22:02)
I think that should flow from the current legislation that’s been enacted SB2006, as well as the Parents’ Bill of Rights. But if there needs to be any clarification on that, because I know a lot of parents have been concerned about potentially being forced to do that, that’s not going to happen. That’s a parent’s decision. So I think that there’s a lot of stuff, and so the question would be, I think by and large people agree on that, what are the enforcement? How do you enforce say the private employer? Do you have the employee sue? Do you have the Attorney General enforced? So those are all things that can be negotiated, but my view is going to be, if someone’s been working this whole time, can they keep working or not? And if you’re telling me they can’t work anymore, then that is not adequate for what we’re looking to do to be able to protect people’s jobs and to be able to protect people’s livelihoods.
Ron DeSantis: (22:56)
This has caused a lot of angst for a lot of people who were going about their business. Many of these people stepped up throughout the whole time, been working in person, never worked from home, and now they’re being told all of a sudden that they’re not wanted anymore or that somehow they can just be cast aside. That’s not the way you treat people. We want to make sure we’re standing for these folks. We want everybody to be able to work. We want everybody to be able to provide for their family. That’s a much stronger state when people have their ability to earn a living than if you’re casting some people aside. That’s not going to not going to end up helping things very much. So stay tuned tomorrow. We’ll have the first filing as soon as the rules publish. Follow that up for a motion to stay at the 11th Circuit.
Ron DeSantis: (23:38)
And, also, we’ll have announcements on the CMS rule. We didn’t necessarily anticipate that being published the same time as the OSHA rule, but that has huge ramifications for all these healthcare providers and all these healthcare workers. And we’ve already seen in different parts of the country, when those mandates have been put in, that’s caused huge disruption really across the board. We want to minimize that disruption. Our COVID hospitalizations is probably at a pandemic low now and we’ve had I think 70 straight days of decline, very low hospital admissions pandemic low. But as the seasons change, we see how these things go. I’ve been saying this for for nine months, there’s an ebb and flow to this, and so if you start to see admissions increase, hopefully they’ll all get the monoclonal antibodies and then that’ll reverse that trend immediately if we start to see it.
Ron DeSantis: (24:25)
But if you do see more hospital traffic, everyone needs to be fully staffed. Having that CMS rule in place, especially if it takes place early January when we’re likely to see the peak of whatever winter season we see, that’s going to make it more difficult. And it’s not just about caring for COVID patients, there’s all these other ailments that are traditional that we need to make sure that we’re supporting the care for as well. Okay, so stay tuned for that.