The coverage of the pandemic within the “Free State of Florida”

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – No mask requirement in the classrooms. No vaccination “passports”. And no more company closings.

The management of COVID-19 from Governor Ron DeSantis has bolstered his nationwide seal of approval among Republicans as he seeks re-election to the governor’s mansion next year and contemplates running for president in 2024.

But the governor’s insistence on staying on course amid a skyrocketing number of infections – Florida had the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the country on Monday – is catching fire as Democrats and many medical professionals point their fingers at the Republican incumbent Campaign called this “tree state of Florida”.

Two Democrats, who have already moved to run against Governor Ron Desantis next year, are hitting him relentlessly for his handling of the pandemic. On Wednesday, both Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and former Governor Charlie Crist, now Congressman, tweeted criticism of DeSantis.

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“We stand in unity with our local school authorities who have constitutional powers to protect our children and not to be bullied or deprived of by our would-be authoritarian governor,” Fried wrote in a tweet.

“The truth is, if the DeSantis had done its job from day one, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” tweeted Crist.

Dr. Sergio Segarra, medical director of Baptist Health in Miami, said it was “a big mistake” for the state to ban local communities from granting masking mandates.

“We said the vaccinated could stop wearing their masks and the unvaccinated also stopped wearing their masks,” Segarra said. People were more relaxed and now it’s time not to be sloppy. “

The current state of the pandemic has placed Desantis in a difficult political position as some school districts are considering opposing its order banning mask requirements for children days before the school is scheduled to open. This also includes the district of Alachua, where the school authorities issued a mask mandate on Tuesday evening.

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Districts like Duval missed a mandate but require masks unless parents sign a deregistration. The Desantis office sent this response to News4jax: We’re finalizing the Emergency Health and Education Rules this week that don’t ban masks in schools but give parents the right to log off their children. School districts are expected to provide parents with this choice.

If a district completely rejects Desantis’ order and introduces a mask mandate, the governor has announced that it will withhold funding.

However, News4Jax political analyst Rick Mullaney said it was politically risky.

“It will draw a lot of attention to the state of Florida and what is happening in Florida, and it will be a direct conflict between Ron Desantis’ public policy and the public policy of these school boards,” said Mullaney. “He’s at odds with the CDC. He’s at odds with school boards across the state. He is clearly at odds with the media and a growing number of people are concerned about his policies. In the coming weeks and months he must therefore hope that this increase does not continue. “

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However, DeSantis is not giving up its largely laissez-faire approach, even if the highly transmittable delta variant of the novel corona virus tears through the Sunshine State.

“We’re not closing,” DeSantis told reporters on Tuesday. “We will open the schools. We protect the job of every Floridian in this state. We protect people’s small businesses. These interventions have failed time and again during this pandemic, not just in the United States but abroad. They haven’t stopped the spread, especially at Delta. “

DeSantis has made Anthony Fauci, a widely respected infectious disease expert who was part of the White House’s COVID-19 advisory team, a frequent subject of contempt. The governor’s political committee, for example, is capitalizing on Republican hostility towards the veteran health officer by selling merchandise adorned with messages like “Don’t Fauci My Florida”.

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DeSantis’ anger is not limited to the doctor, however. The governor has taken a similarly combative stance against the CDC – suing federal agencies for refusing to lift restrictions on cruises – and President Joe Biden’s administration.

But with Florida and Texas responsible for a third of the COVID-19 cases in the US last week, the White House is striking back. Biden blamed DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday for “poor health policies” amid spikes in the two states.

“I’m telling these governors, please help,” said Biden. “If you don’t want to help, at least avoid people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives. “

DeSantis fired back at a news conference in Panama City Wednesday, promising to stand in the way of a “lockdown policy” and accusing Biden of attempting to restrict the rights of parents and children in Florida.

“If you try to deny children adequate personal education, I’ll stand in your way and I’ll stand up for the children in Florida. If you are trying to restrict people from mandating, if you are trying to ruin their jobs and livelihoods and small businesses, if you are trying to lock people up, I stand in your way and stand by the people of Florida, “said Biden.

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Critics accuse DeSantis of assisting GOP base voters – who appear in large numbers in primary elections – on issues such as face masks and its reliance on scientists and data that are considered outliers in the medical community.

DeSantis has advocated the use of vaccines but, unlike some other GOP governors in states where COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased, it hasn’t pushed Floridians to get the injections. About half of the eligible Floridians are not fully vaccinated.

With recent polls showing DeSantis leading the gubernatorial race, the Republican leader “has a strong feeling that he will win re-election” and “looks to the next game, which is clearly the presidential game,” policy adviser Steve Vancore , Who advises Democrats, said in an interview.

“You have to be the most conservative, pro-Trump Republican in the field, and as such, he seems to be sticking to a script that is tailored to his far-right base. There’s no part of Ron DeSantis that plays all the way to the middle. He plays every step of the way to the base, ”said Vancore.

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COVID-19 health logs are “used as a political chessboard because our governor and others have established that it is a political tool while Floridians die or get sick and people die across the country,” US MP Val Demings, a Democrat, who is trying to remove the Republican US Senator Marco Rubio, said in an interview.

“Why can’t we just listen, our governor and others, let science guide us, let medical experts guide us, follow their guidelines?” She said. “I really wish this topic wasn’t politicized, but it was from the start.”

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