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The Washington Post editorial boarda statement condemning Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ fierce opposition to mandates for masks and vaccinations. He wants to run for President as the candidate most like Trump.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, has descended to a jaw-dropping level of cynicism. At a news conference on Monday, he announced that if local governments in Florida impose vaccine mandates on their employees, he would fine them $5,000 for every worker. Then he stood silently by as Gainesville city employees made false claims about the mRNA vaccines that have saved countless lives during the pandemic.
Although the wave of illness from the delta variant appears to be receding in Florida, the state has suffered a terrible summer toll of hospitalizations and deaths. A governor facing such a cataclysm might naturally be expected to use all methods to keep people safe. Instead, Mr. DeSantis, an ally of former president Donald Trump, has for months been campaigning against mask and vaccine mandates and actively sought to prevent business, government and schools from imposing them. These are vital tools to save lives in the face of a highly transmissible disease, but the governor insists that everyone should have the right to make their own decision. He casts himself as a defender of personal freedom.
This is a favorite argument of Republican governors and others, including Mr. Trump, who last year amid lockdowns was tweeting “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and other states. But personal freedom does not give an individual the right to hurt others. Those not wearing masks and refusing to get vaccinated are spreading the virus and overcrowding the nation’s hospitals. They are the majority of those who are dying. This is not freedom; it is recklessness.