Florida Is Epicenter Of COVID-19; Governor DeSantis Believes That Infection Rates Will Fall This Month

Florida accounts for 1 in 5 new cases of COVID-19 — the Sunshine State is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and experts believe that the state has not yet reached its peak. Many are questioning if the Governor of Florida is doing enough to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

“If the pandemic continues unabated over the next few weeks, I’d be shocked if the numbers of his approval rating didn’t change,” Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida, said. “Eventually, I think, there’s going to be a majority of people in Florida that expect more.”

According to The Hill, there were 11,515 COVID-19 hospitalizations recorded on Tuesday, and 2,400 people are in intensive care units.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis does not plan to implement any lockdowns or mask mandates for the state because he believes that the restrictions hurt public health and the state’s economy. The Governor signed an executive order in May that allows him to cancel local pandemic emergency measures. The legislation also banned businesses from using a vaccine passport system.

“I have a lot of push from the CDC and others to make every single person, kids, staff, have to wear masks all day,” the Governor said at a restaurant in Cape Coral last month. “That would be a huge mistake.”

“I think it’s important to point out because obviously, media does hysteria,” Governor DeSantis said at a press conference in Miami on Tuesday. “You try to fear monger. You try to do this stuff. And when they talk about hospitalizations, our hospitals are open for business.”

Leaders in the state feel cornered by Governor DeSantis’s overpowering stance on COVID-19 guidelines. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber expressed his disappointment with the Governors refusal to establish mask mandates earlier this week.

“We were one of the first cities to require it and we charged a fine just to get people to do it. The governor stopped allowing us to do it, and then immediately we saw a surge across our county and state when he did that,” the Miami Beach Mayor said to CNN.

“It’s a trend that precedes DeSantis,” Thomas Kennedy, a Democratic National Committee member, said. “The erosion of home rule and the pervasive use of preemption from Tallahassee and local governments. These small-government conservatives are, dare I say, tyrannical in the way they interact with local governments.”

Fifty percent of Floridians are fully vaccinated. President Joe Biden criticized Governor DeSantis on Tuesday for opposing mask mandates and vaccine requirements and incentives.

“If you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way of the people trying to do the right thing,” the President said.

The Governor says that the rise in cases is “seasonal” and that the number of cases will drop this month.

“Even among a lot of positive tests, you are seeing much less mortality than you did year-over-year,” Governor DeSantis said. “Would I rather have 5,000 cases among 20-year-olds or 500 cases among seniors? I would rather have the younger.”

“I think protecting the vulnerable has been the right way to go.”

A COVID-19 forecasting model, SEIRcast, shows that the state will reach its peak in September.

“These predictions warn that until vaccination rates are ramped up to achieve herd immunity over this fall, people will still need to follow social distancing measures, such as wearing face coverings at the very least, to protect themselves and to reduce infection spread,” Edwin Michael, an epidemiologist that helped develop the forecasting model and professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida, said.

Other Republicans have praised Governor DeSantis for his handling of the pandemic, but many Democrats feel as if the Governor is killing Floridians. The hashtag #DeathSantis is being used online to attack the Governor.

“Many Republicans continue to support and back up the governor. They think that, as the governor seems to believe, that the big worry of this pandemic at this point is government overreach, government mandates, and government taking away people’s individual freedom to choose,” Jewett said.

“We certainly encourage all governors to follow the public health guidelines,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “There are steps and precautions that can be taken, including encouraging people to get vaccinated, encouraging people to wear masks, including allowing schools to mandate masks, and allowing kids to wear masks, which is not the current state of play in Florida.”

 

About RavenH

Raven Haywood is a journalist for 10+ years. Graduate from Howard University.

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