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Dr Anthony Fauci blasted a fundraising website for Florida Gov Ron DeSantis for offering T-shirts and drink coolers with messages mocking COVID-19 vaccines and the top infectious disease expert himself amid rising death rates in Florida.
During his appearance on Jake Tapper’s CNN show State of the Union on Sunday, the veteran director of the National Institute of Allergy and infectious Disease said there was no place for ‘politicization’ during a public health crisis.
‘We have an extraordinary problem that is killing people in the United States, killing us, putting us in the hospital, so that kind of politicization… there’s not place for that when you’re dealing with a public health crisis,’ Fauci said.
Dr Anthony Fauci appeared on Jake Tapper’s CNN show Sunday and slammed a site for Gov Ron DeSantis for selling merchandise mocking masks, COVID vaccines and him personally
T-shirts and beverage coolers retailing to $21 and $12, respectively, are emblazoned with the words, ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida’
Two days earlier, Florida posted the nation’s second highest seven-day death rate related to COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020, nearly 44,000 people have succumbed to the virus in the state.
A campaign website for DeSantis is offering a range of merchandise poking fun at masks, COVID vaccines and Fauci himself. The scientist has long been a lightening rod for right-wing conservatives opposing mask and vaccination mandates.
A T-shirt and a matching beverage cooler retailing to $21 and $12, respectively, are emblazoned with the words, ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida.’
When COVID vaccines were first introduced last winter, they were jokingly referred to as ‘Fauci-Ouchis.’
Another beverage cooler design bears a quote from DeSantis, which reads: ‘How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?’
When asked about being personally targeted for promoting vaccines and safety measures during the pandemic, Fauci replied: ‘whoever is attacking me is a reflection of the politicization of what should be a purely public health issue, and it’s really unfortunate.
‘They are attacking personally me because I’m a visible person, but I’m merely articulating the proper public health practices that are recommended strongly by an organization, and that organization is the CDC.’
Fauci added: ‘we should put all of that aide.’
Gov Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has been a fierce opponent of mask mandates in Florida
This map from the CDC indicates that the rate of COVID transmission in Florida is high
More than 637,500 people have died of COVID in the US since the outbreak of the pandemic
Helen Aguirre Ferre, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, described the anti-vaccination and anti-masking messages being peddled by the fundraising site as ‘lighthearted fun.’
Ferre noted that the site offering the items is not DeSantis’ official campaign website, given that the first-term governor has yet to file paperwork seeking reelection.
‘We view it as a great opportunity to have some lighthearted fun and give his supporters a chance to feel even more connected with his message of keeping Florida free, she said in a statement to Newsweek.
Over the weekend, Florida reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 21,189 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths were added on Friday alone.
Last week, the number of confirmed COVID cases in the state increased by 151,760, and 1,737 patients have died.
As of Friday, just over 52 per cent of Florida’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated.
Mounting deaths from the latest surge in COVID-19 have strained capacity at hospital morgues and funeral homes across central Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel reported the AdventHealth health system had reached morgue capacity at 10 of its hospitals in five counties: Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia.
The hospital group said it has resorted to using rented, refrigerated coolers to store bodies.
One sign of relief is that hospitalizations have decreased in recent days. The Florida Hospital Association said there has been a 4 per cent decline last week, but warned people not to let their guard down and to get the vaccine.