White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed Monday that Walt Disney World halting its employee vaccine mandate showed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken "steps backward" fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
"They're based in Florida, and obviously, the governor there has consistently taken steps backward as it relates to fighting the pandemic, not forward," Psaki told reporters, Fox News reported.
Psaki's comments come after DeSantis signed four bills last week empowering private businesses to allow more vaccine exemptions in the wake of President Joe Biden's employer vaccine mandate earlier in November.
"Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates, and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida," DeSantis said of the legislation.
The mandate enacted through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required businesses with more than 100 employees to have their workers vaccinated or subjected to weekly testing.
The new OSHA rule was suspended through a temporary stay by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals soon after its announcement.
Despite the loss in court, Psaki stated she believes many businesses would still require vaccinations even without a mandate.
"I would note that a recent poll showed that 60% of business leaders wanted to move forward on their own with vaccine requirement," she said. "We've seen them implemented, at a lot of companies, they've been effective, and overall, it gives a lot of businesses certainty about their workforce, makes people feel more confident in coming back to work."
Disney World, located in Orlando, announced Saturday it was pausing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate in response to the new Florida law. A spokesperson said the company "will address legal developments as appropriate."
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