Florida governor Ron DeSantis is doubling down on his criticisms on public health experts, even as COVID-19 cases in Florida are on the rise once again.
DeSantis is seen as a potential GOP frontrunner in the 2024 presidential election, and his campaign team has begun selling merchandise that both mocks safety guidelines and namechecks White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci.
The campaign has started selling shirts and hats with the slogan “Don’t Fauci My Florida” as well as coozies reading “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”—a DeSantis quote from February after he was photographed at the Super Bowl ignoring the City of Tampa’s mask mandate.
DeSantis has regularly bucked the suggestions of public health officials on steps to avoid the spread of COVID in Florida, keeping schools and the state economy much more open than other states during the pandemic. Last September, he issued an executive order banning local governments from enforcing mask mandates. That order was extended in November. In April, the state successful sued the U.S. government, demanding cruise ships be allowed to start sailing.
Daily COVID cases in Florida are currently quadruple the national average — coming in at 26 new infections per 100,000 people. The state’s most recent death rate from the virus is nearly double the national figure.
Right now, DeSantis is focused on the 2022 Florida gubernatorial race, but many political observers say he could be a presidential candidate in 2024. His stance on public health measures (and prioritizing the state’s economy) was a rallying point for some on the right. The merchandise looks to cash in on the growing conservative backlash against Fauci, who has been one of the most visible advocates for masks, immunizations, and other public health warnings.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com