Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back at those he says are stoking fear of monkeypox on Wednesday, telling reporters that he refuses to treat the outbreak the way the COVID-19 pandemic has been.
"I am so sick of politicians, and we saw this with COVID, trying to sow fear into the population," the Republican governor said at a press briefing. "We had people calling, mothers worried about whether their kids could catch it at schools."
"We are not doing fear," he continued. "And we are not going to go out and try to rile people up and try to act like people can't live their lives as they've been normally doing because of something."
DeSantis also aimed at blue states that have floated new restrictions over the outbreak. Last week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency in New York, followed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday.
"You see some of these states declaring states of emergency. They're going to abuse those emergency powers to restrict your freedom. I guarantee you that's what will happen," he claimed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has recorded 525 cases of monkeypox so far. That makes it the fifth most numerous state behind New York, at over 1,500 cases, California with 826 cases, and Illinois and Texas both numbering around 530.
Disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm told CBS News on Wednesday that the disease has primarily affected "sexually active gay men" but assured the network that most are at low risk.
"As much as many people don't want to accept this, it is primarily a sexually transmitted infection, just like herpes or syphilis," Osterholm said. "But not everyone gets it from sexually transmitted routes — for example: if you do have contaminated bedding or towels, or even physical contact."
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