Becerra says DeSantis is responsible for the outsized Covid toll

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has taken aim at Florida Governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis for sowing mistrust in Covid-19 vaccines and safety measures.

“If you die of Covid today, you haven’t taken precautions,” Becerra said in response to a question about DeSantis’ vaccine skepticism posed by White House reporter Adam Cancryn at the Care Summit. of health from POLITICO.

“If you listen to someone tell you not to take this precaution, it’s not just your fault. It’s that leader’s fault for not giving you the best information. If leaders choose not to take care of their people, it’s on them.”

DeSantis and his surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, questioned whether vaccines pass the cost-benefit test for certain populations, such as children and young men, who may suffer rare side effects from injections but are also at low risk. of the disease.

In contrast, Becerra touted the work of the Biden administration and its Department of Health and Human Services in getting vaccines out.

He credited those efforts with helping reduce the death toll from the more than 4,000 people who lost their lives on President Joe Biden’s inauguration day to just over 100 a day now. And he said the administration has been successful in its efforts to convince traditionally more vaccine-resistant people of color to get the Covid shot.

But Becerra acknowledged that confidence in not just Covid vaccines, but all vaccines, has declined during Biden’s tenure.

He blamed misinformation. “Social media is dangerous,” he said. “We fight anecdotal information with facts and believe it or not, sometimes the facts lose.”

At the same time, some people up to date with their vaccinations continue to die from Covid-19, especially those with compromised immunity or chronic illnesses, despite Becerra’s assurances.

DeSantis, meanwhile, is campaigning on his Covid response, calling Florida, where he ended the lockdown earlier than most and banned mask mandates, a “mental health haven.”

Spokespersons for DeSantis’ office and campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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