Column: My apology to Florida Gov. DeSantis: Sorry, you're even worse than I imagined
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, left, with Vice President Mike Pence, is giving lectures to the media about how successful he was in curbing coronavirus outbreaks in May. Florida is now one of the worst pandemic hotspots in the country.
The Conservative National Review editor Rich Lowry, editor of the Conservative National Review, may have awarded the trophy for self-sufficiency in reporting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for an article entitled "Where's Ron DeSantis Going To Apologize?" Secured.
Lowry's goal was to defend the Tea Party-backed governor's approach to the coronavirus crisis. DeSantis "took this seriously from the start, looked at data and research, and worked out a well-considered answer," Lowry wrote in an editorial that accompanied the entire article.
"The media portrayed DeSantis as a yokel who would kill Floridians with his careless approach," continued Lowry. "Conventional wisdom about Florida has gradually changed because the widespread prediction has not materialized."
We did it, and I think people just don't want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared victory over the corona virus on May 20
Lowry was also able to show his own ignorance of the emerging catastrophe and set up DeSantis for a larger settlement. This is because the widely predicted catastrophe has now swept over Florida in full cry. Lowry and DeSantis declared the win far too early.
On Friday, state health officials confirmed 8,942 new COVID-19 cases, "almost doubling the number of cases reported on a single day two days earlier," reports the Miami Herald.
The percentage of tests that were positive for COVID-19 also increased to 14.74% on Friday. This is well above the 10% threshold, which health officials say indicates a controlled infection rate, and well above the national average of 5.5%.
We have already reported on DeSantis' strategy and trust in his wisdom. Then and now, we don't want to choose DeSantis for the increase in the pandemic within its state's borders. He is not the only governor who has been unsuccessful in dealing with the corona virus.
Infections have increased in other red states, particularly in Texas and Arizona, and also in blue states.
California, where Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a nationwide home stay order and supported social detachment and mask use in public - and enacted a mandatory mask ordinance on June 16 - has seen alarming increases in cases.
As my colleague Taryn Luna reported, the number of hospital patients in California has increased by 32% to 4,240 in the past two weeks, double the two-week increase of 16% that Newsom reported on Monday. However, the rate of positive tests by the state remained constant at around 5.1%.
Overall, the number of cases is increasing in 33 countries, so that politics is not necessarily the only determining factor in the struggle.
These trends point to the difficulty that political leaders face in promoting socially responsible anti-pandemic behavior such as staying at home and wearing masks among residents who have grown tired of the restriction, especially against the background of limited or no progress against it the virus.
In California, Newsom had to host local officials and voters who opposed these guidelines by allowing them to reopen commercial and public spaces, even if the coronavirus was apparently not under control.
Florida restaurants that take reservations rose sharply in mid-January, but have fallen since then. (Open table)
What makes DeSantis special? He is a governor who made the fight against COVID-19 a political issue.
The main politician of the battle was, of course, President Trump, who portrayed the crisis as a personal affront from the start, treated anti-virus measures as political arrows that point to themselves, and completely refused to set an example for the public through his participation she and portrayed success against the pandemic as a political affirmation.
Now that the battle is lost and more than 120,000 Americans have been killed by the corona virus on his watch, Trump and the rest of his government are largely missing.
Think about how things might have turned out differently if he had only advised the Americans to put on masks in public and did so himself as a role model. Thousands of lives could have been saved, and the idea that walking without a face was a political statement would have been stifled in his crib.
DeSantis played the role of Donald Trump's apprentice during much of the pandemic. He personalized the criticism of state politics as if it were only about him. He grumbled that he had been the target of a "typical partisan narrative" that predicted an increase in the number of illnesses associated with supposedly premature reopening of Florida by commercial businesses and recreation areas.
He complained that the media "had become poetic for weeks, just like Florida would be like New York," and boasted that it was anything but.
His March 24 order that visitors from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut be quarantined for 14 days was aimed at "people fleeing states to Florida on" shelter-in-place "orders , including from the New York area of three states "seemed to play a mentality between the red and blue states.
This was particularly so because Florida opened its beaches for spring break carousels that threatened to export the disease nationwide. (Now the shoe is on the other foot as northeastern states that finally got their cases under control have placed quarantines on Florida travelers.)
"We did it," DeSantis said on May 20, "and I think people just don't want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative." This was the day that Lowry published his praise for DeSantis' superior wisdom in the National Review.
Other Republican governors played the same game. Like Trump, some of these governors tried to contain the pandemic by restricting public access to data, firing statistical analysts, or even manipulating the numbers.
Some went even further than DeSantis by actively interfering in local anti-virus efforts. Republican governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, banned the locations from requiring masks, despite lifting the restriction a week ago.
Ducey promoted the idea that the coronavirus was under control by overturning the state's order to stay at home on May 15 despite early warnings. The number of cases in the state increased ten days later, reflecting the mean time frame between exposure and symptoms. Arizona is now the country's leading hot spot for infection growth.
In Texas, Republican governor Greg Abbott oversaw one of the nation's most ruthless responses. He did not issue an order to stay at home until April 2, and then canceled it on April 30. He also banned local officials from imposing rules on wearing masks.
Texas has joined Arizona and Florida as the nation's top hotspots. Now all three are trying to step back from the edge. Ducey and Abbott have slowed the reopening of their states. Abbott closed the bars in Texas again, ordered the restaurants to reduce capacity by 50%, and prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people outdoors. DeSantis banned the sale of alcohol in bars in Florida.
The damage was done, however. All three governors either explicitly or implicitly supported the idea that behavior like wearing masks was a question of individual choice, a distorted expression of "personal freedom".
However, the freedom to infect your neighbors and infect yourself is not freedom at all. The political leaders, who downplayed the scale of this public health crisis, took no action or blocked intelligent measures, and enjoyed the freedom they gave their states, played politics for personal reasons only. The virus does not respect politics and causes voters to pay for their leaders' breach of duty.
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