Florida Gov DeSantis Declares Flawless Victory Over COVID-19, Reality
Ron DeSantis, the country's worst governor, has somehow convinced himself that he's got a big future in national politics. Andrew Gillum on a bender couldn't have fucked the coronavirus response up worse than this, and yet DeSantis is convinced that he's got a real shot at the 2024 presidential nomination if he can just magic away COVID-19 with the power of positive thinking. Plus a boatload of arm twisting and repeating the same nonsense over and over, LOUDLY.
Here's three stories from the past 24 hours, because OMG, just look at this shit!
DeSantis Orders Schools to Open, OR ELSE
The Daily Beast has a scoop this morning about DeSantis forcing school districts to open despite coronavirus spikes in their counties. While publicly stating that each district has the final say, DeSantis has ordered health commissioners not to advise local school officials to close for safety. And this week he personally threatened to withhold state funds from local school districts that planned to start the year online.
The World Health Organization recommends that jurisdictions aim for a positivity rate of five percent or lower for 14 consecutive days before they relax restrictions. In rural Hendry County, 12 percent of all new tests are coming back positive, while four percent of the entire county (not a sampling) already has it. The local school board agreed that they wouldn't hold in-person education until the county hit 10 days where the positivity rate was 10 percent or lower. But then DeSantis threatened to withhold funding if they didn't open up by August 31, and the board was forced to reverse course.
"I made the choice because I didn't want to risk losing funding for this district," Superintended Paul Puletti told the Beast. "It's all very stressful."
Similarly in Hillsborough County, which educates 223,300 students and boasted a 13 percent positivity rate on Monday, DeSantis's Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran rejected a plan to have online eduction for four weeks beginning August 24 and threatened to withhold $23 million in state funds.
"Some of this stuff is just not debatable anymore," DeSantis said on a visit to a local prep school. "We're going in a good direction in this area and that's just the reality."
Spoiler Alert: It's not the reality.
Florida Man: Sheriff's Edition
Meanwhile, in Marion County, Sheriff Billy Woods has banned his employees from wearing masks. In fact, if you show up at the sheriff's office seeking assistance, they will order you to remove your mask or leave the building.
"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," Woods wrote in an email reported by the Ocala Star Banner.
He has to do it because of, umm, BLM: "In light of the current events when it comes to the sentiment and/or hatred toward law enforcement in our country today, this is being done to ensure there is clear communication and for identification purposes of any individual walking into a lobby."
And, anyway, who even knows if masks work at all, right?
"We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn't," Woods said.
Marion County, where almost one third of residents are 65 or older, has a 12.5 percent seven-day positivity average. Just yesterday, 13 people died there from COVID-19. And in the past two weeks, there have been 954 cases linked to area corrections facilities. Naturally, the only way for Woods to keep his staff safe is to ban masks.
Well played, Florida Sheriff!
Yesterday DeSantis continued his bizarre victory lap at Florida State University, where he exhorted the Atlantic Coast Conference not to follow the Big 10 and Pac 12 conferences in postponing football until the spring to protect players, coaches, and fans. (And if those words mean nothing to you, just understand that some college athletics commissioners have decided to ignore the president's exhortations to play ball, and some haven't.)
In a press conference at the Seminoles training facility, flanked by FSU's president, football coach, and several players, DeSantis admitted that the school relies on revenue from ticket sales and television licensing and that he's staked his political career on pretending that coronavirus is totally under control.
No, Florida's governor argued that he's doing it for the good of the players themselves. Really, if you think about it, it's an act of Christian charity!
"The environment that sports provides at a place like Florida State is a safer environment for these kids than what they would have if they didn't have access to this environment," DeSantis said.
Golly, whatever can he mean by that?
"We think it's in the best interest of our student-athletes for us to play football," FSU President John Thrasher agreed. Later he pooh-poohed warnings that athletes might suffer lasting heart damage if they contract coronavirus.
"I think all these red herrings that are out there that have been talked about, frankly, we've dealt with, we've dealt with for the entire time that we've been getting ready to play football," he said. "And we've tried to imagine every single circumstance that could happen, and we think we can do it safely."
See, it's really about "these kids." Not the $71 million in revenue the football team brought in last year, $10.9 million of which went to pay the coaches.
And indeed, DeSantis is probably right that a majority of "these kids" want to play. But let's cut the shit here and stop pretending that this is about doing what's best for the players. Football is just one more front in DeSantis's plan to beat COVID-19 by insisting that everything is fine, just fine and punishing anyone who dares to say that isn't. He wasn't willing to do the work to contain this pandemic, but he'd like to claim the payoff anyway.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.