New York Times Wonders Why COVID-19 Keeps Picking On Innocent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

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The New York Times seems obsessed with redeeming Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It's as if every staff member who's not a person of color has money riding on him in the 2024 presidential election. How else do you explain its regular series of DeSantis puff pieces, the latest of which dropped this weekend like an anvil on sanity's head?

New York Times

Yes, the Times tweeted these words:

The unexpected and unwelcome coronavirus surge now unfolding in the United States has hit hardest in states that were slow to embrace vaccines. So what's going on in Florida?

The headline for the article from Patricia Mazzei, Benjamin Mueller, and Robert Gebeloff asks “What Went Wrong With the Pandemic in Florida." OK, let's solve this locked-door mystery, shall we?

Ron DeSantis is what went wrong with the pandemic. His every action and decision over the past 18 months have been awful. There are no other suspects. But the Times seems to suggest DeSantis is a passive observer, a victim of circumstance, caught in a landslide — no escape from reality.


While leaders in [Florida] also refused lockdowns and mask orders, they made it a priority to vaccinate vulnerable older people. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, opened mass vaccination sites and sent teams to retirement communities and nursing homes. Younger people also lined up for shots.

See, right there is some bullshit. DeSantis fought Democratic officials who tried to implement basic mitigation measures to slow COVID-19's spread. In November 2020, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, a Democrat, denounced DeSantis' COVID-19 strategy as “nuts, frankly. He simultaneously opened up the economy and instead of then saying, 'but everybody needs to wear a mask'... he actually did the opposite." DeSantis even issued executive orders banning local mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions.

But what about that vaccine? We'd read somewhere that Florida had "one of the country's most confusing and inefficient vaccination campaigns." Where was that again? Oh, right, the goddamn New York Times! This was in late March, when DeSantis let Spring Breakers (and COVID-19) run wild. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who's running for governor next year, accused DeSantis of letting his “white wealthy donors" skip the vaccine line. That was somewhat of a scandal that the Times ignores, even though it usually has no trouble repeating whatever garbage slander Republicans spout about President Joe Biden.

DeSantis also was among the first Republican governors to ban so-called “vaccine passports" (a term not found in the Times piece). In May, he piously declared:

In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.

If you want to ensure your state reaches vaccine herd immunity, you don't go out of your way to make the unvaccinated a protected class. DeSantis obviously discouraged vaccinations by blocking any potential inconvenience for the willingly unvaccinated. Just 51 percent of Floridians are fully vaccinated, which isn't the worst in the nation, unfortunately, but DeSantis is still fully responsible for those mediocre numbers. He literally fought cruise lines that wanted to keep their ships plague free.

The vaccines flat-out won't work if people make the “personal choice" to refuse vaccination. This is simple math. Children under 12 aren't eligible yet for vaccination, so there really isn't that much room to spare for dullards who believe themselves conscientious objectors in the war against COVID-19. This effort required almost full adult compliance.

The Times is overly generous to DeSantis when it claims that the current coronavirus surge is “unexpected." The first Delta case was reported in Florida this April. DeSantis' open-door-to-COVID-19 policy where he encouraged tourists to visit and live blissfully free from other states' restrictions arguably lit the fuse for the surge.

An out-of-control pandemic is "what's going on" in Florida. There are at least 43,979 COVID-19 victims in the state so far, and despite what the Times might suggest, Ron DeSantis is not one of them.

[New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

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."

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