Teachers union boss Weingarten backpedals bigtime from hyperbolic DeSantis slam after backlash

American Federation of Teachers union boss Randi Weingarten backpedaled big time on Thursday after she was blasted on social media for suggesting that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 policies would “kill millions.”

“You are all probably right… I shouldn’t have said millions. I should have just said DeSantis was wrong to do this.. Fauci is an amazing public servant. He shoudn’t [sic] be mocked. But I shouldn’t engage in that kind of hyperbole either. My bad,” she wrote.

The mea culpa comes after Weingarten ripped DeSantis’ 2022 reelection campaign for selling merchandise that mocked the country’s top immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well as many of the COVID mandates and restrictions he continues to favor even as the pandemic wanes in a substantial portion of the country, though Americans are still getting sick from the virus and its newer Delta variant.

“Disgusting. Millions of Floridians are going to die for Ron DeSantis’ ignorance and he’s choosing to profit from it. He doesn’t care about Floridians; he cares about furthering his own cruel agenda,” Weingarten wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

There have not yet been a million COVID deaths in the U.S. thus far, though the figure has topped 624,000, according to the latest data — a fact that was pointed out by several social media users who ridiculed Weingarten for her statement.

“Florida’s COVID death rate is lower than the national average, and unlike the Governor of New York, we don’t fudge the numbers. Meanwhile, Randi Weingarten ruined the education of millions of kids by keeping them out of school for more than a year based on a conspiracy theory,” DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw wrote in response.

She added in a separate post that the “conspiracy theory” Weingarten had pushed came from disproven allegations made previously by Rebekah Jones, Florida’s former health department dashboard manager, who was fired after falsely claiming DeSantis’ administration ordered her to decrease COVID death rates in the state.

As for Florida, there have been about 2.3 million total COVID-19 cases and around 38,000 deaths, though the state has one of the highest per capita populations of senior citizens over the age of 65, a demographic seen as among the most vulnerable for contracting and dying from the virus.

Some of the merchandise being sold by DeSantis’ reelection campaign include items marked with the phrase, “Don’t Fauci My Florida” — an apparent reference to the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden’s continual push for mask-wearing, social distancing, vaccine mandates, and other COVID-related policies that are seen by the Sunshine State governor as unnecessarily limiting Americans’ freedoms.

Other merch includes the phrase “Keep Florida Free,” along with a beverage koozie that says, “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?” — which stems from a comment DeSantis made in response to criticism of him drinking a beer and not wearing a mask during the Super Bowl in February, which was played in Tampa and featured the now-world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

All said, however, cases are rising again in Florida. On Monday, state health officials announced 12,624 new cases, the second-highest one-day increase in the U.S., along with 35 new deaths.

The state set a new record nationally for the biggest daily increase in cases on Sunday — 15,300 — health officials noted.

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Jon Dougherty

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