White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued scathing advice to Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis (Fla.) and Greg Abbott (Texas): Get control of the Delta variant in your states or "get out of the way."
Both of the Republican leaders have been outspoken in their opposition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's newly updated guidelines recommending universal masking in schools and high-transmission areas.
What are the details?
A Wednesday report from Yahoo! News detailed Psaki's Tuesday press briefing from the White House, as COVID-19 case counts in Florida and Texas have risen to the point that they currently account for one-third of all infections across the United States.
Psaki, who insisted that the Biden administration has offered assistance to both governors to get the spread under control, appeared to suggest that the states' leaders have yet to accept the White House's help.
"But if you aren't going to help, if you aren't going to abide by public health guidance, then get out of the way and let people do the right thing to lead in their communities, whether they are teachers, university leaders, or private sector leaders or others who are trying to save lives," she said Tuesday in response to the questions about the rising confirmed COVID-19 case numbers in both Florida and Texas.
The outlet added, "Asked to clarify what she meant by having the two governors 'get out of the way,' Psaki elaborated, 'That means don't ban, don't make it harder for people to put requirements on masks — or asking for vaccination status — into law."
She added, "Leaders are going to have to choose whether they're going to follow public health guidelines or they're going to follow politics."
Elsewhere in her Tuesday remarks, Psaki said that President Joe Biden would likely speak directly to DeSantis about the state's rising COVID-19 numbers — but only if they "thought it would make a difference."
"But I don't have any expectation or prediction of a call between them," she hastily added.
What was the response?
In a statement on Psaki's remarks, the DeSantis administration said:
She might want to brush up on the Constitution and learn more about the role of a state governor. As it turns out, freedom matters. Every day, nearly a thousand Americans relocate to Florida — mostly fleeing from the ever-changing, contradictory COVID restrictions pushed by federal bureaucrats on lockdown states. By contrast, Governor DeSantis keeps up with the latest research and makes data-driven decisions. If he had 'gotten out of the way' as Psaki suggested, and let the CDC run our state, many of those lives might have been lost — as we saw with the tragic situation in New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where the age-adjusted death rates are significantly higher than in Florida.
A spokesperson for the Abbott administration in Texas has yet to issue public remark on Psaki's admonitions.