Florida currently is experiencing a massive surge in new coronavirus infections – nearly four times the national average and second highest among all 50 states. Its COVID-19 death rate is almost double the national figure and it ranks fourth for current hospitalizations. Public health experts say that virtually every new coronavirus patient is unvaccinated.
So how does the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, respond? By selling tacky campaign merchandise that mocks Dr. Anthony Fauci and his life-saving mantra of vaccinations and mask wearing. DeSantis literally is trying to cash in on a growing conservative backlash toward Fauci, who has advised seven presidents and directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The not-clever slogan “Don’t Fauci My Florida” is emblazoned on $21 T-shirts and $12 drink koozies on the governor’s campaign store website. Another koozie pictures him smiling and holding a beer bottle on one side and a purported DeSantis quote, “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?” on the other side. The website also offers hats and T-shirts with the phrase “Keep Florida Free.”
NEW TODAY: Our team just dropped EXCLUSIVE merchandise on our brand-new @WINRED storefront.
Trust us… You don’t want to miss out on this. 👀See Also
— Team DeSantis (@teamrondesantis) July 12, 2021
The governor has encouraged people to get vaccinated but also banned businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, arguing that such measures are a form of discrimination against people who refuse vaccines for medical or religious reasons. He also successfully sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep it from enforcing its coronavirus rules on cruise ships in Florida, a major part of the state’s tourism industry. On Tuesday, however, Norwegian Cruise Lines sued Florida’s surgeon general and is asking the court to allow it to move forward with plans to require proof of vaccination for everyone boarding its ships.