ORLANDO (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke out Monday against the possibility of lockdowns in the United States over fears of the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.
At a press conference Monday, President Joe Biden said Americans had the tools to fight the omicron variant without the need of COVID-19 lockdowns.
“If people are vaccinated and wear their mask, there’s no need for lockdowns,” he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci also said Sunday it was “too early to say” if lockdowns or health mandates were going to be needed.
However, Desantis took the preemptive step to say such lockdowns will never happen in Florida.
“In Florida, we will not let them lock you down,” he said. “We will not let them take your jobs. We will not let them harm your businesses. We will not let them close your schools.”
DeSantis also spoke against the travel restrictions put in place against South Africa and other nations over omicron variant concerns, despite supporting President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions toward China during the initial outbreak of COVID-19.
“We have to take a step back and acknowledge that those travel restrictions didn’t work,” he said.
Fauci himself said he wouldn’t be surprised if the omicron variant was already in the U.S. but justified the travel restrictions as a way to buy time to prepare against omicron during an interview on CBS Mornings.
While there is still some uncertainty on the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization put out a technical paper Monday that said the omicron variant poses a “very high” risk to the entire world since its mutations could allow it to escape an immune-system response and spread more easily.
The omicron variant has been said to have some “unusual but mild symptoms,” according to the South African doctor who discovered it in her patients, but that does not mean the variant is harmless.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee said she is concerned for those in high-risk groups that may get the variant strain more easily as it spreads quickly among younger individuals.
“What we have to worry about now is that when older, unvaccinated people are infected with the new variant, and if they are not vaccinated, we are going to see many people with a severe [form of the] disease,” she said in a Telegraph report.
No deaths have been reported from omicron yet, but the WHO said if the strain turns out to be deadly, “the impact on vulnerable populations would be substantial, particularly in countries with low vaccination coverage.”