The Florida Department of Health ordered its county-level spokespeople in September to stop talking about COVID-19 until after Election Day on Nov. 3, according to an investigation by the Sun-Sentinel. The directive came as part of a general strategy by Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration to downplay the virus. “It is all part of the top-down control of messaging from the governor’s office,” an anonymous senior official in the state’s health department told the newspaper. DeSantis’ administration also spurned the guidance of mainstream public health officials—instead promoting former White House COVID advisor Scott Atlas—and concealed data of infections in schools and prisons until public pressure forced a reversal. On Tuesday, Florida became the third state to surpass 1 million total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, following Texas and California.
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