The Tampa Bay Times showcased Governor Ron DeSantis’s lengthy contradictory actions to manage the pandemic. At the same time, DeSantis’s idea of possibly reopening schools was rebuked by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. DeSantis’ chaotic response mirrors Donald Trump’s mismanagement at the national level.
On April 11, the Tampa Bay Times reported on the governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, stating: “DeSantis’ uneven response has made him an outlier among his counterparts across the country.” The Times looked at DeSantis’s conflicting directives, false claims, and that the governor pushed unverified cures. The paper also reported that DeSantis was not maintaining communications with Florida’s mayors or holding consistent briefings to the public.
The Times reported all this just one day after Politicoreported that Dr. Anthony Fauci stated “If you have a situation where you don’t have a real good control over an outbreak and you allow children together, they will likely get infected.” Politico reported that Fauci stated he was not singling out Florida, but the paper noted that “he was responding directly to a reporter’s question about DeSantis, who on Thursday said that opening schools in May was at least a consideration.”
Excerpt from the Tampa Bay Times’s “Why Ron DeSantis’ popularity has taken a hit since the pandemic started”:
A month into an international pandemic, the leader of the nation’s third-largest state has confounded with conflicting orders. DeSantis has made erroneous claims — like on Thursday when he suggested no one under the age of 25 has died from the coronavirus in the United States. He has pushed unproven medical cures while dismissing advice from health experts. He has shared wrong information, potentially affecting millions of people, that went uncorrected for hours.
“The communications coming out of his office have been very strange.” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said. “And it’s hard to get answers from his staff. It has just been a very stilted response.”
None of his orders have been more confusing than his most important one: the April 1 directive to effectively shut down the state.
Though he lagged days behind 33 states, DeSantis’ order appeared rushed, coming soon after the White House urged 30 more days of social distancing. The directive seemed to say that senior citizens and seriously ill people couldn’t leave their homes at all. It took two days for DeSantis’ office to clarify that this wasn’t the case.
Nor did the order spell out which “essential” services could remain open. Instead, officials, businesses and residents have been forced to decipher 29 pages of guidelines tacked onto the order from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Miami-Dade County.
“People are having such a hard time with this,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said this week. “People are looking for a list of what is nonessential in the governor’s order. It does not exist.”
[Rick] Scott, a fellow Republican, called the lack of information coming from DeSantis’ administration “alarming” during a March 7 interview. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, also a Republican, said March 12 on Twitter he was “disappointed” that he learned of his city’s first positive coronavirus test from the news, not the state Department of Health that DeSantis oversees.
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