Coronavirus Florida: ‘Flori-duh,’ DeSantis in national spotlight for bungling pandemic

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Coronavirus updates: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis takes critical hits as state COVID-19 cases continue to spike with 9,334 new cases.

Florida — long a national running joke since the 2000 presidential election debacle — took hit after hit on Sunday in the national media for the handling of the coronavirus that made it the new epicenter of the pandemic.

Most of the news reports focused on how Florida on Saturday usurped New York in the number of coronavirus cases and now only trails California, a far more more populous state with nearly twice the population.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was also the subject of the Washington Post piece that detailed how he ignored scientists and followed President Trump’s denials of the severity of the outbreak. The bad news for the governor followed the cancellation of the Republican National Convention that he had lobbied to come to Florida.

Then there was the sad story of a 9-year-old who succumbed to COVID-19 even though she had no underlying health issues — negating DeSantis well-worn refrain that children don’t get seriously ill.

THUD: GOP Fla Gov. #DeathSantis approval on handling of coronavirus fell by double digits since April, when he had 50% approval: new Quinnipiac University poll.

38% approve of his handling of the virus, 57% disapprove

— Laffy (@GottaLaff) July 23, 2020

And last, but not least, were the comments of DeSantis’ top business regulator, who said he wants to find a way to open up Florida bars, and the swirling debate among medical professionals to open up public schools for in-person classes.

Just another typical news cycle for the nation’s peninsula during a once-in-a-century pandemic.

“Ever since the 2000 election Florida has kind of been looked as being a little incompetent when it comes to handling their politics,” said political analyst Brian Crowley.

“All of these things kind of add to the rest of the country looking at Florida as this weird place that can’t seem to get anything done right. You toss the pandemic into the mix, and, once again, Florida looks like the Flori-DUH state instead of the Sunshine State.”

The grim daily recitation of COVID-19 numbers for the state repeated itself again on Sunday.

Gov. DeSantis: Coronavirus spike not caused by Floridians’ behavior, it’s ‘seasonal’

— LOST in PA (@WontSurvive4mor) July 26, 2020

It was only in May that conservatives demanded an apology to Gov. Ron DeSantis for early predictions that the state would be mired in COVID-19. Now, though, DeSantis’ boasting two months ago has boomeranged on the governor.

“By all measures Florida is failing,” said Dr. Terry Adirim, a dean and professor of pediatrics at Florida Atlantic University’s medical school. “New cases per capita is the highest in the United States.”

On Sunday, DeSantis wasn’t scheduled to hold one of his patented explain-away-the-virus news conferences as the national media spoke of the spike in his state and reported that dozens of Florida hospitals were at capacity.

The state reported 9,344 new COVID-19 cases and 78 new deaths on Sunday with 11% of all new tests coming back positive.

Florida now has for a total of 423,855 cases and 5,972 deaths.

In Palm Beach County, there were 598 new cases reported Sunday.

The Washington Post, in its exposé, said DeSantis’ schedule showed only one meeting in the month of July with his top public health official, Scott Rivkees.

“Decision-making became increasingly shaped by politics and divorced from scientific evidence,” according to 64 current and former state and administration officials interviewed by The Washington Post.

“DeSantis has made the classic mistake that we are seeing from some governors all over the county. He has put politics first and the pandemic second,” Crowley, the political analyst, said. “There is a time politics doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t matter when you are dealing with a health crisis.”

Before summer, DeSantis loved to chide New York when deaths were growing there. At one point, he established highway checkpoints entering Florida and implemented a 14-day self-isolation order for people arriving from New York.

But Crowley said the Republican governor should have followed the lead of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.

“If you need any proof what is the right way to go, obviously the kind of leadership Mario Coumo showed is clearly different from the lack of leadership from Ron DeSantis,” Crowley said.

Crowley said DeSantis had positioned himself almost as a moderate before the pandemic but then wedded himself to President Trump and the president’s response to the the pandemic.

With his political capital quickly depleted, Trump pulled the Republican National Convention from Jacksonville — after DeSantis had lobbied for him to move it to Florida from North Carolina.

“That just makes Ron DeSantis look silly,” Crowley said. “He put the politics of the convention ahead of the health of folks living in Jacksonville.”

A Quinnipiac University Poll released Thursday found that 83% of Floridians said spread of the coronavirus is a serious problem in the state, while just 16% say it is not.

Seventy percent consider the spread of the coronavirus in Florida “out of control.” Only 24% felt it is “under control.”

Recap of the @GovRonDeSantis #COVID19 presser from earlier today:
– He seemed to compare this outbreak to March/April, but the surge in hospitalizations & deaths back then was minuscule to what’s happening now ‍
– Took another shot at the media for its headlines

— Ryan Gorman (@ryanegorman) July 18, 2020

Looking back, 61% of voters think Governor Ron DeSantis reopened the economy “too quickly.” Thirty-one percent think he reopened “at about the right pace” and 6% say he reopened “too slowly.”

Altogether, DeSantis’ approval rating for handling the pandemic has plummeted a dozen points to 38% since April, the Quinnipiac poll reported.

Florida’s unabated rise in COVID-19 cases comes as private schools plan to open in-person classes, while public schools plan to put all lessons on-line to start the semester.

If you’re wondering why Florida’s exploding with virus, America’s stupidest Gov. @GovRonDeSantis only cares about approval from the Worst President in History. When he ran this idiotic commercial it should have told Floridians all they needed to know.

— Jim David (@ComicJimDavid) July 26, 2020

Also making national headlines was the death of Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum, who became the youngest person to die from COVID-19 complications in Florida at the age of 9.

The Putnam County resident died on July 17 and her family said the youngster had no underlying conditions. Five minors have died of COVID-19 in the state.

“No one deserves this, words can’t express that she was just amazing. And she didn’t have a chance to live her life but she was always happy, she was resilient and she just was an outgoing young lady,” her cousin Dejeon Cain told Gainesville television station WCJB.

As virus hit Florida, its governor sidelined scientists to follow Trump

— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 26, 2020

National media also mentioned a tweet by Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. He said Saturday that he is planning to start setting up meetings with owners of bars and breweries across the state to discuss how they can reopen.

Florida banned alcohol consumption at its bars to stem the spike in coronavirus cases.

With this backdrop, the debate over opening schools remains a festering topic.

The Palm Beach County Medical Society last week endorsed the Centers for Disease Control full-throated call for students to head back to brick-and-mortar classrooms. However, it also endorsed the measure approach by the School District.

Gov. DeSantis is letting fear — and the virus — win | Ted Deutch

— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) July 26, 2020

The CDC issued a statement entitled “The Importance of Reopening America’s School this Fall,” noting that the infection rate among children is low.

The medical society called on “school-based health facilities” to follow the CDC guidance to keep students safe. However, the Health Care District, which employs school nurses, furloughed all healthcare professionals for the start of the school year.

“Schools can determine in collaboration with state and local health officials to the extent possible whether and how to implement the CDC considerations while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community,” read the statement from the Medical Society.

Governor DeSantis suggests Florida’s virus numbers are ‘inflated’

— Newsmax (@newsmax) July 25, 2020

Dr. Larry Bush, an infectious disease specialist and president of the society, said the infection rate is going down and there is no evidence that children would carry the disease back home or infect teachers like a “Trojan horse.”

He called on the school district to define what it would consider “safe” to be for students to return to the classroom.

“If I had a child here, I’d send him to school,” Bush said.

A number of doctors and experts populated a Zoom meeting this week on the subject put on by the Medical Society. The webinar wasn’t a formal statement by the organization.

“As the virus spread out of control in Florida, decision-making became increasingly shaped by politics and divorced from scientific evidence…”
— WashPost with a withering appraisal of how Gov. Ron DeSantis has managed the #coronavirus crisis in Florida.

— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) July 26, 2020

Adirim, at FAU medical school, said that the closing of schools hurt disadvantaged children who don’t have computer access and rely on a variety of services, such as meals.

“Getting all children back into school for in-person instruction is paramount for in person instruction is paramount,” Dr. Terry Adirim, a dean and professor of pediatrics at Florida Atlantic University’s medical school. “Opening schools is not just critical for our children’s benefit but their parents, many of whom need to to work, and therefore is vitally important to our economy.”

But she added Florida can’t just open up the doors of public schools as the pandemic is out of control. “The environment is just not safe right now in Florida for our community, our families, our teachers,” Adirim said.

“Trump asked DeSantis in May whether he would require masks for the convention and whether the virus would be a problem…DeSantis said he would not require masks and the virus would not be a major problem”

How Florida got sucked down Trump’s black hole:

— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) July 26, 2020

All eyes are on the positivity rate among children, but the state’s data has been all over the place.

The Florida Department of Health admitted this week that an error for children resulted in an error that put positivity rates above 30%. The adjustment now puts the positivity rate at around 13%.

Adirim said that is still not good enough to open up schools to in-person class instruction, saying it is well above the World Health Organization recommendation of 5%.

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