If you aren’t familiar with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, think South Carolina Lindsey Graham but even more spineless. From the beginning of Trump’s presidency, DeSantis has been fighting to win the president’s gaze. At one point, when states were turning up their nose at hosting the GOP convention because of the coronavirus, it was DeSantis who stepped in to offer his state as a superspreader hotspot. He’s encouraged Trump to “fight on” in his baseless battle to overturn the presidential election. Seriously, if Florida was a person it would be Ron DeSantis.
So it seems about right that this week, Florida is coming from behind in the race to the bottom as they’ve become the third state to hit a million coronavirus cases and DeSantis notes that “if we try harder we can make that number 2 million before the end of the year!”
OK, DeSantis didn’t say that, but an investigation has found that DeSantis and other Florida leaders mishandled the virus since the beginning, and outright lied to the public about the extent and dangers during the pandemic aided in the spread of the virus.
According to a South Florida Sun Sentinel investigation, DeSantis and his administration have engaged in lies and concealment about COVID-19, including suppressing unfavorable facts, and outright ignoring of public health officials while promoting the views of scientific dissenters who supported DeSantis’ (a la Trump’s) apathetic view of the disease.
DeSantis has supported all of the Trumpisms surrounding the coronavirus: He’s not advocated for wearing masks, nor has he encouraged citizens not to gather in large crowds. The governor’s own spokesman even took to Twitter to claim that the “coronavirus was less deadly than the flu,” and included stats that downplayed the impact of the virus.
The Sun Sentinel conducted interviews with more than 50 people, “including scientists, doctors, political leaders, employees of the state health department, and other state officials, as well as more than 4,000 pages of documents” and here is what they found.
From the Sun Sentinel:
- The DeSantis administration refused to reveal details about the first suspected cases in Florida, then denied the virus was spreading from person to person — despite mounting evidence that it was. State officials withheld information about infections in schools, prisons, hospitals and nursing homes, relenting only under pressure or legal action from family members, advocacy groups and journalists.
- The DeSantis administration brushed aside scientists and doctors who advocated conventional approaches to fighting the virus, preferring scientists on the fringes who backed the governor’s positions.
- The governor’s spokesman regularly takes to Twitter to spread misinformation about the disease, including the false claim that COVID was less deadly than the flu.
- The governor highlighted statistics that would paint the rosiest picture possible and attempted to cast doubt on the validity of Florida’s rising death toll.
“It’s become pretty clear that what Florida is doing right now isn’t working,” Dan Gelber, mayor of Miami Beach, said during a press event as the state was approaching some 900,000 cases of Covid-19. Gelber also called for a statewide mask mandate, adding: “It’s unmistakably clear that Florida’s approach to managing this pandemic is failing pretty horribly.”
Gelber charged that coronavirus case numbers began surging after DeSantis “opened up the economy totally in late September and simultaneously prevented local governments from enforcing individual mask mandates,” the Sun Sentinel reports.
And the craziest part is that DeSantis has scientists at the ready, willing to help stop the spread of the virus, and instead of utilizing the advantages afforded him, he’d rather ride the Trump train.
“We have over 200 affiliated faculty within this institute,” Glenn Morris, director of the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, told the Sun Sentinel.
“This is what we do for a living. Yet the state has not taken full advantage of that expertise.”
And they won’t, because why bother yourself with science when you have white god, aka Trump, telling you from his anus-shaped mouth that one day this will all disappear like a miracle?