Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis Declares Flawless Victory Over COVID-19 Restrictions
A few months ago, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis declared Florida an "oasis of freedom" from COVID-19 restrictions and invited the young and the maskless to come party hard during spring break. It was a disaster, but we're not just party-pooping progressives. We have proof.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that variant COVID-19 infections went wild not long after spring break. The Florida Department of Health has documented more than 10,000 variant cases throughout the Sunshine State.
A total of 753 variant cases from three strains -- the B.1.1.7, the P.1, and the B. 18.104.22.168. -- were reported on March 14, according to variant infection data shared with ABC News. The Florida Department of Health does not disclose variant cases on its public dashboard.
That number swelled to 5,177 cases from five types of variants on April 15. Just two weeks later, the number of variant infections exploded to 9,248 on April 27, according to local ABC affiliate, WFTV.
The surge is consistent with Florida's mid-March to April superspreader jamboree. DeSantis didn't even bother fiddling or playing any musical instrument while COVID-19 variants burned through the state he supposedly governs. He's been too busy signing bills to restrict voting rights and freedom of assembly. Florida is more of "a mirage of freedom."
Florida currently has the most variant COVID-19 cases in the country. Residents had enough to worry about with all the alligators and Matt Gaetz. State health officials reported more than 11,800 cases of COVID-19 variants just last Wednesday. At least 243 Floridians have been hospitalized because of the variants and 67 people have died. Imaginary voter fraud, however, hasn't resulted in the known deaths of any Floridians. COVID-19's total death toll in Florida over the past year is 35,699, but just those 67 deaths greatly outnumber any reported fatalities during the so-called Black Lives Matter/antifa “riots" that concern conservatives so much. It's as if Republicans are focused on the wrong things.
The number of variants running free in Florida is likely greater than reported because only one percent of COVID-19 cases are tested to study their genetic coding. The Florida Department of Health also didn't release the variant data willingly. The Orlando Sentinel successfully sued to obtain a county breakdown of variant cases.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Miami-Dade County leads the state with a reported 2,279 variant cases, followed by Broward County with a reported 1,950 variant cases.
A new mutation of the COVID-19 variant from Brazil was identified in Florida last week. This particular strain, which hit Brazil hard, was found to reinfect people who've already had the virus. It also spread quickly among young people who'd normally have mild cases of the original recipe COVID-19.
From the Sun-Sentinel:
"It's hard to come up with an explanation for why Florida is the leading state for variants," said Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. He believes Florida's large international airports and its high volume of visitors from Latin America and Europe may contribute.
While everyone puzzles over why Florida's lousy with COVID-19 variants, DeSantis has lifted all restrictions that would keep the virus from spreading. A piddly-ass 28.27 percent of the state is fully vaccinated, which is needless to say nowhere close to herd immunity, but DeSantis still suspended all local COVID-19 emergency orders.
DeSantis also signed Senate Bill 2006, which was passed by lawmakers last week and goes into effect July 1. The law will force local government emergency orders to expire after seven days, and they can only be extended for up to 42 days. The law also allows the governor to invalidate any local emergency order.
It's like he's literally the COVID-19 virus, disguised in a poorly constructed, not-very-convincing man suit, trying to make sure it has the resources it needs to thrive.
The variants are disproportionately impacting Florida's Hispanic residents, who account for 26 percent of the population but 39 percent of variant cases statewide. Four people in Palm Beach County died from a variant strain of the coronavirus. Three of the four were Black and over the age of 69. The other was a 46-year-old Hispanic man.
DeSantis is not interested in seriously containing this virus. Floridians should hurry up and get vaccinated before variants are allowed to spread and mutate past the point where the current vaccines are effective.
It didn't have to be this hard, but as St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said last week, "Our health has become politicized."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."