On the same day that Florida originally posted the largest number ever of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in a single day, Gov. DeSantis stood firm declaring, “We’re not rolling back.” Meaning that, instead of letting the full picture of the spread of the virus in the state be his guide — along with medical experts’ advice, of course — Florida’s governor already has determined that everything is as it should be, now that businesses and public spaces have reopened.
Since then, Florida has had numerous days of posting large numbers ... numbers larger than that original day.
We would have hoped that, in the face of a spike in cases, with too many Floridians still not taking safety measures seriously and with the possibility of a second wave of the disease, the governor would be open-minded and nimble should the number of COVID-19 cases continue to head in a worrisome direction.
This dubious stance should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. Ever since the pandemic started, DeSantis and his administration have been more dangerous hindrances than responsible leaders as the state responded to the disease and its deadly potential. He let Spring Break continue unimpeded; issued stay-at-home orders later than he should have; left the suddenly jobless stranded in securing their unemployment benefits through a broken-down website; sat silent on nursing-home case numbers; and took bad advice from President Trump.
More tests, fewer masks
DeSantis pointed out, when a whopping 2,783 cases were reported in one day, that the state is conducting many more tests on on a broader range of people, which, he said accounts for the increase in confirmed cases. Makes sense. As reported by the Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau, Florida has to test about 33,000 people every day. And in recent days, the state has exceeded that number. The governor can take a bow here.
Daily increases over the weekend were in the range of 3,500 to 4,000-plus.
But that’s not the full story. Epidemiologists also point out that the numbers recorded point to a higher number of transmissions, too — a sign that people have let their masks slip, are not staying the recommended minimum distance from each other and have abandoned other precautions.
Last month, the governor ordered a rather conservative, phased reopening, allowing hard-hit South Florida counties to make their own decisions. From what we know about the virus’ incubation period and the ability of asymptomatic carriers to spread it, part of the recent spike could very well be tied to the state’s reopening. The governor is too smart to keep denying that link, but he does so anyway, determined to prevent further damage to the economy. His motives are understandable: Floridians have to get back to work, need the provide the family food and pay the mortgage.
Factor in reopening
Even the governor acknowledged that community transmission is playing a role in the higher number of cases recorded, but then he shot down the notion that reopening restaurants, bars and other public amenities is a contributing factor. Some of those bar and restaurant owners are implementing their own shutdown phases, as are some communities implementing their own requirements to wear face masks in public places.
And now comes the Republican National Convention, slated for Jacksonville this summer. How in the world will those tens of thousands of attendees be protected? Not well, not when they might have to sign a waiver freeing the party of liability should they catch COVID-19. Not, in an example of pretzel logic, when so many of their elected leaders are denying the coronavirus is a big deal.
Throughout, the governor had the good sense to let South Florida leaders make their own decisions about how best to handle COVID-19. They and their constituents were on their own. They still are.
An editorial from the Miami Herald.