WASHINGTON - White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday accused Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida of "taking steps that prevent the saving of lives" with their opposition to vaccine mandates in their states.
"Governor Abbott's executive order banning vaccine mandates – and I would also note the announcement by Governor DeSantis this morning, essentially banning the implementation of mandates – fit a familiar pattern that we've seen of putting politics ahead of public health," Pskais said during the daily White House briefing.
"Over 700,000 American lives have been lost to COVID-19, including more than 56,000 in Florida and over 68,000 in Texas," Psaki added. "Every leader should be focused on supporting efforts to save lives and end the pandemic. Why would you be taking steps that prevent the saving of lives, that make it more difficult to save lives across the country or in any state."
Psaki's remarks came in repose to an executive order issued by Abbott in Texas which bans "any entity" in the state from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and DeSantis' announced preparedness to defend workers who are fired from their jobs for not getting COVID-19 vaccines.
"Vaccine requirements have been standard in both the Lone Star State, Texas, in case you're not familiar, and the Sunshine State, Florida, in schools for decades," Psaki said. "Whether polio measles, mumps, rubella, the chickenpox, there are vaccine requirements that have been implemented for decades in these states."
Psaki also claimed that the actions taken by Abbott and DeSantis put them "out of step with both longtime requirements, a history of vaccine mandates, but also many business leaders in their states."
Asked later in the briefing about Abbott's motivation for issuing the executive order, Psaki said it was based solely on "politics."
"I think it's pretty clear when you make a choice that's against all public health information and data out there, that it's not based on what is in the interest of the people you are governing, it's perhaps in the interest of your own politics," Psaki said.
Abbott and DeSantis could not immediately be reached for comment.
Fox News' Michael Lee contributed to this article.