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White House press secretary Jen Psaki inaccurately claimed Wednesday that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not advocated for residents in the Sunshine State to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Asked about efforts in Florida to get coronavirus tests to residents in the state who are most vulnerable to contracting the virus and criticism from DeSantis of the Biden administration’s methods, Psaki said the governor’s rhetoric is “pretty rich.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki answers questions during the daily White House press briefing January 6, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
“I would say it’s pretty rich coming from Gov. DeSantis, given he has been someone who’s been advocating — not exactly advocating — for people in his state to get vaccinated, which we know is the way that people can be protected, ways that lives can be saved,” Psaki said.
Psaki said if DeSantis “wants to be a part of this constructive process, then perhaps he should encourage what science says is the best way to save lives, prevent and reduce hospitalizations, and that is getting vaccinated and getting boosted.”
But on several occasions, DeSantis has voiced support for the vaccine and touted its ability to save lives and reduce symptoms.
In July, DeSantis told Floridians of the importance of the vaccine and how it is “saving lives” amid the pandemic.
“If you look at the people that are being admitted to hospitals … over 95% of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all,” DeSantis said. “These vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.”
“Jen Psaki tells bold-faced lies about Governor DeSantis with the utmost confidence, because she knows the corporate media will never ‘fact check’ her,” DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw told Fox News following Psaki’s remarks.
Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, speaks during a news conference at a Regeneron monoclonal antibody clinic in Pembroke Pines, Florida, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. ( Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Governor DeSantis advocated for vaccines from the day they became available for the most vulnerable. In fact, he was so effective that in April, ‘60 Minutes’ did a hit piece criticizing his distribution of vaccines to seniors first in partnership with Publix,” Pushaw added. “NBC News even criticized Governor DeSantis for prioritizing 90-year-old Holocaust survivors for vaccines, when he was following the science showing that older people are at much higher risk from COVID-19.”
Pushaw also lamented the Biden administration’s efforts to promote “effective therapeutics and early treatments” used to treat individuals diagnosed with COVID-19.
Lurie Children’s hospital registered nurse Carolyn Ruyle prepares a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Lurie Children’s hospital Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
“Florida now has a higher vaccination rate than the national average, but vaccines have not stopped or slowed the spread of the Omicron variant anywhere in the world,” she said. “Miami-Dade county, the omicron hotspot in Florida, has a 93% vaccination rate. Therefore, if Psaki and Biden truly care about saving lives, they should be promoting the effective therapeutics and early treatments for COVID-19, as Governor DeSantis has done and continues to do.”
Pushaw said last year that “DeSantis has mentioned the vaccines positively almost 100 times in public remarks since November 2020.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien contributed to this article.