COVID-19 is plummeting in Florida — DeSantis's critics hardest hit

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Late this summer, COVID-19 finally took off in Florida and began ravaging its elderly population, courtesy of the delta variant. Some people were very pleased about it.

© Provided by Washington Examiner

Critics of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis were positively gleeful. They had been waiting a very long time for data that would finally back up their case against him — that for avoiding severe restrictions for the first 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic, DeSantis was some kind of mass murderer.

They are curiously quiet now that the Sunshine State’s rate of hospitalizations has plummeted 75% from its mid-August high, and its seven-day average death toll is down more than 50% from its mid-September high. But the bigger problem for their argument is that DeSantis began “reopening” his state in June 2020 and finally lifted all COVID-19 restrictions as of September 2020. He left the beaches and most businesses open the whole time. He never mandated masks. So if that course of action were the cause of what’s happening now, then why did the effect wait so long? The timeline makes no sense.

The much more likely and unfortunately frightening explanation is that, as in 2020, Florida has experienced the worst during the summer, when Floridians take refuge indoors. Under that theory, northern states’ delta infections, already on the rise, are destined to hit just as hard as winter sets in.

When COVID-19 struck in spring 2020, DeSantis was hotly criticized for failing to close down the state’s beaches — you know, those big open outdoor spaces where Floridians can easily distance themselves from others and breathe fresh air without fear of contracting a virus.

At that time, none of the doomsayers’ predictions of an unusual surge in COVID-19 cases or deaths resulted from this decision. In fact, Florida’s experience with COVID-19 remained unremarkable among the states right into 2021.

It seemed quite fortunate, in fact, that a state with such a large elderly population should be spared in comparison to other states.

Florida’s spike in cases came in much later, with the delta variant. Hospitalizations peaked in mid-August at 12 for every 100,000. Deaths peaked in late September at more than 400.

Fortunately, Florida’s rate of COVID-19 hospitalization has plunged to just 3 for every 100,000 and is now lower than Delaware’s (9 per 100,000), Pennsylvania’s (6), Maryland’s (4), and Virginia’s (4), among others. Florida’s hospitalization rate is now roughly equal to that of California, Oregon, and Georgia. Its seven-day average death rate, still high at 211, is off more than 50% from its peak and appears to be trailing the hospitalization numbers downward.

Despite the recent spike, Florida still has a lower cumulative COVID-19 death rate than New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, among others. It had been weathering COVID-19 so much better than these states until this summer, casting doubt upon the notion that governors’ orders have much effect on the coronavirus.

DeSantis has also been a vocal supporter of vaccination. His state’s high vaccination rate — 78% of those eligible have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 98% of those over age 65 — reflects his efforts. But again, that hasn’t stopped irresponsible speculation that he “flirts” with anti-vaccine opinions. This came up basically because he failed to start a public shouting match with someone who expressed a kooky anti-vaccine opinion in his presence.

As the delta variant spread, DeSantis was also criticized for shifting his emphasis toward treatments rather than vaccination. But that approach absolutely made sense. After all, with the growing number of delta infections, there were many more people than before who needed treatment. These people were sick and did not need a vaccination that would make them more resistant to the virus after multiple doses over several weeks. Vaccination is intended for people at risk of getting a disease, not for those currently suffering from it.

Judging by the data, DeSantis has done as well as any governor in dealing with the pandemic. He also appears to be blessed in his enemies, who mostly behave like deranged conspiracy theorists.

Most recently, academic J. Edwin Benton told the Washington Examiner that he thinks the state’s dramatically improving numbers are being faked. Oh, really?

He’s not the first to propound such idle speculation. The liberal media attempted to make a hero out of website operator Rebekah Jones when she claimed, falsely, that there was something underhanded in the way non-resident deaths were being counted. All of her allegations (her story changed many times) have been thoroughly debunked. She has since been caught in multiple additional lies, and she currently awaits trial for the felony offense of illegally accessing and stealing thousands of Florida Health Department personnel files. She acts like she’s a victim of DeSantis’s persecution, which has helped her scam half a million dollars from gullible people through two GoFundMe pages.

That’s just one of many illustrations of how bad liberal journalists are at judging character and understanding reality in general.

For the first several months during the pandemic, they lionized Andrew Cuomo, the disgraced former governor of New York whose insane nursing home policy led directly to thousands of COVID-19 deaths. Cuomo, in the minds of left-wing journalists, was doing a great job because he put in place anti-business measures as harsh as possible. Yet, somehow, his state fared worse than Florida, where the restrictions were light.

We would all be better off if COVID scolds stopped trying to make a deadly virus into a political issue. Considering how they viewed Cuomo and Jones, perhaps those leveling such criticisms just have no clue about what works against COVID-19 and what doesn’t — or about whom to trust, or anything else, for that matter. These people are dense — it may take them some time to accept that the coronavirus is now part of life and will unavoidably continue to take lives in all 50 states as long as the U.S. continues to exist.


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Tags: Editorials, Ron DeSantis, Coronavirus, Florida, Vaccination

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