- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 26, 2021

On Monday, thousands of New York City municipal employees marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, American flags in tow, protesting the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which will take effect next week. About 46,000 unvaccinated city employees have until Nov. 1 to get at least one shot or be placed on unpaid leave.

In Chicago, it was reported last week that about 4,500 city police officers, or roughly 35% of the city’s law enforcement staff, didn’t report their vaccination status by Oct. 15 as mandated by the city and could be placed soon on no-pay status.

Over the weekend, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis invited them to live and work in the Sunshine State — or at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Freedom State.

“In Florida, not only are we going to want to protect the law enforcement and all the jobs, we’re actually actively working to recruit out of state law enforcement because we do have needs in our police and our sheriff’s departments,” Mr. DeSantis told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Sunday. “So in the next legislative session, I’m going to hopefully sign legislation that gives a $5,000 bonus to any out-of-state law enforcement that relocates in Florida.”

He had a simple message for members of law enforcement across the country: “If you’re not being treated well, we’ll treat you better here. You can fill important needs for us, and we’ll compensate you as a result.”

There is no doubt, Mr. DeSantis has been at the forefront of beating back the unconstitutional and draconian COVID-19 mandates issued by blue-state local governments and by Uncle Sam, catching the ire of President Biden.

Yet despite doomsday predictions from the mainstream media and the Biden administration that Floridians would suffer as a result, Florida now has the lowest COVID-19 per-capita infection rate of any continental state.

Mr. DeSantis has vowed to fight Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandates and said, on “a practical level,” they will “wreak havoc” on the economy as folks walk away or are fired from their jobs in the logistics, medical and law enforcement professions. Mr. DeSantis vowed that no Floridians would lose their jobs for refusing to get a jab.

Last week, shortly after Mr. DeSantis called for a special session to ban local COVID-19 vaccine mandates, he tweeted out a popular internet meme flag that read “Don’t tread on Florida,” complete with an alligator, chomping at the mouth.

This summer, Mr. DeSantis issued an executive order banning school districts from mandating the use of masks at risk of losing state funding. This month, the Florida Board of Education made good on that promise, sanctioning eight school districts that defied state orders, which say parents have the “sole discretion” on whether a child wears a mask to school.

As Florida battles the legality of such mandates in court, Mr. Biden’s Department of Education awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to at least two Florida school districts that violated Mr. DeSantis’ order, making up for the lost state money. Yet data coming out of Florida this month showed virtually no difference between the Florida school districts that masked their students versus those that did not.

In September, new COVID-19 cases for children ages 5-17 years old decreased 79% in 54 districts that didn’t have mask mandates, compared to a decrease of 77% in 13 districts that implemented mandates.

“The data for this school year to date shows no impact of forced masking in schools on pediatric COVID-19 prevalence,” Mr. DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw said on Oct. 7. “This is not surprising, since there were no statistically significant differences in case rates in forced-masking versus mask-optional schools during the 2020-21 school year in Florida.”

Still, Mr. Biden has called for Mr. DeSantis to “get out of the way” and stop resisting his administration’s authoritarian COVID-19 guidance.

He’s refused to mention him by name, referring to Mr. DeSantis as “governor who?” and, in a punitive act, cut Florida’s federal supply of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19, which were heavily promoted by Mr. DeSantis, in half.

No, bother. In late September, Mr. DeSantis secured 3,000 doses of the treatment on his own from GlaxoSmithKline. So far, the state has administered more than 130,000 monoclonal antibody treatments, saving thousands of lives and many others from having to be admitted to the hospital.

This is what true leadership looks like. Florida is at the forefront of protecting Americans’ freedoms and liberty in the face of totalitarian COVID-19 rule. Thank you, Mr. DeSantis. And don’t tread on the state of Florida.

• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor of the Washington Times.

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