As the Delta Variant of the virus that's killed over 600 thousand Americans continues to wreak havoc on the nation with yet another surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, a number of Republicans who embraced former President Donald Trump's dismissal of the threat are doubling down.
Among these is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.
In addition to reopening Florida early on in the pandemic, the Governor signed legislation to block private businesses and local governments from requiring vaccinations. In one of his most recent controversial moves, DeSantis has banned schools from enforcing mask mandates, even after Florida recently broke its all time record in daily new cases and leads the population in hospitalizations for the virus.
With the Delta Variant affecting more children—many of whom are not yet eligible for vaccination—than the original strain, concerns are growing that educators and their students will be uniquely vulnerable to the virus.
But the Superintendent of schools in Florida's Leon County, Rocky Hanna, has said they will be requiring masks for children from kindergarten through eighth grade, with only medical or religious excuses for backing out.
Yet DeSantis' office is once again doubling down, with his office threatening "financial consequences" in a recent statement:
"[I]t would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed. For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law."
Alberto M. Carvalho, Miami-Dade County Superintendent, said:
"At no point shall I allow my decision to be influenced by a threat to my paycheck, a small price to pay considering the gravity of this issue and the potential impact to the health and well-being of our students and dedicated employees."
People were incensed by DeSantis' threats of financial consequences.
Perversely, some think DeSantis is implementing the policy ahead of a potential White House run in 2024.
Cases in Florida continue to rise.