Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to ban mask mandates for schools amid the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant.

On Sunday, Cassidy appeared on the CNN program “State of the Union” and slammed DeSantis’ statewide ban on mask mandates in schools rather than allowing local officials to make the final decision for what’s right for their area.

“I do disagree with Gov. DeSantis. The local officials should have control here. I don’t want top-down from Washington, D.C. I don’t want top-down from a governor’s office,” he told Dana Bash.

“When it comes to local conditions, if my hospital is full and my vaccination rate is low and infection rate is going crazy, we should allow local officials to make those decisions best for their community.”

Cassidy, who is also a physician, reflected on the importance of allowing local officials to evaluate the conditions of their communities and make public health decisions rather than issuing a general mandate for the state.

“I’m a conservative," he said. "I think you govern best when you govern closest to the people being governed. And if a local community is having their ICU is full, and the people at the local schools see that they’ve got to make sure they stay open because otherwise, children miss out for another year of school, and they put in policy, then the local officials should be listened to.

“That is a conservative principle," Cassidy added.

Cassidy went on to express the difficulty of making public health decisions when politics are involved.

“Whenever politicians mess with public health, usually it doesn’t work out well for public health, and ultimately it doesn’t work out for the politician, because public health suffers and the American people want public health,” he said.

Cassidy’s criticism of DeSantis comes days after President Joe Biden called out the Florida Republican and Texas Gov. Greg Abbot for promoting a “bad health policy” by issuing mask mandate bans for schools in their respective states.

Bill Cassidy
Republican Bill Cassidy addressed supporters after the results of the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana against Democrat Mary Landrieu in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Nov. 4, 2014. Reuters