Biden extends COVID emergency declaration again, DeSantis vows legislation to protect Floridians against mask and vaccine mandates

President Joe Biden’s administration recently, and quite predictably, extended once again the “public health emergency” for the COVID-19 pandemic that has been in place since January 2020.

Just one day after that decision was made, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced his own plans to not only end all remaining pandemic-related rules in the state but also to pass new laws that completely prohibit all mask and vaccine mandates, the Western Journal reported.

It is a stark contrast in leadership, as the one leader in Washington D.C. seeks to retain emergency powers over the American people for at least three more months while the leader in Tallahassee is ready to return power to the people of his state and protect them from onerous government overreach in the future.

The “public health emergency” has been extended … again

On Jan. 11, Health and Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra issued a declaration to announce that he had signed off on yet another 90-day extension of the COVID-19-related “public health emergency” that has been continuously in place since Jan. 30, 2020.

That first declaration had been signed by former HHS Sec. Alex Azar and subsequently renewed by him four times, in April, July, and October of 2020 plus in January of 2021.

Since the Biden administration came into power, Becerra has now renewed that same declaration eight times, in April, July, and October of 2021, January, April, July, and October of 2022, and now again in January 2023.

“It is a civil right” to be maskless and not discriminated against over vaccination status

Meanwhile, on Jan. 12, the Daily Caller reported that Gov. DeSantis held a press conference in which he discussed his plans for legislation to protect all Floridians from discrimination related to things like mask and vaccine mandates. The GOP-controlled Florida legislature will next convene for a regular session in March.

“We were the first state in the country to ban COVID vaccine passports in the spring of 2021, almost two years ago,” DeSantis said. “We protected employees from being fired from their job. We did a special session in 2021 over the shots [and] banned schools from requiring covid shots for students, including universities.”

The governor noted that many of those rules and prior actions to protect the people from COVID-related overreach were set to expire on July 1, hence his determination to pass legislation to make such protections more permanent.

“So we’re gonna do a whole package. We’re gonna make all this permanent, then we’re gonna add some more protections for people,” DeSantis said. “You should never be discriminated against based on your mRNA status at all, in any way. It should not even be an issue.”

“You should also have protections about masks. You should be able to live your life without a mask,” he continued. He further decried as “irrational” the mask mandates imposed by private businesses, and added, “I just think it is a civil right to be able to breathe the fresh air and be able to live your life.”

Possibly the final extension

According to Politico, the public health emergency declaration extended by Sec. Becerra last week may well be the last one, according to unnamed sources within the administration, though no decision on ending the formal declaration has been made and the White House has left itself some wiggle room to potentially extend it at least once more in April if it determines that COVID-19 continues to pose a dire threat to the American people.

In all actuality, the administration has quietly and begrudgingly accepted the reality that a majority of Americans are over and done with the pandemic and its related rules and restrictions, but have become accustomed to the additional powers the declaration has afforded them and is reluctant to relinquish it, even as governors like DeSantis, and others, have shown the path forward in a post-pandemic nation.

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