Please Take a Moment From Your Vacation, Ron DeSantis, and Reassure Florida
Florida’s case numbers exploded to 77,848 Thursday—and still no appearance from you, Mr. Governor. It’s time to come out of hiding and speak to your constituents.
Your press secretary says you are on vacation with your wife and three children.
If that is so, you can surely still take a moment to reassure your constituents that you have not deserted them during a record-breaking surge of new COVID-19 cases.
For a moment late Thursday afternoon, it seemed you had materialized at a bagel shop. A photo on your Twitter account showed you smiling with four of the staff.
“Had some great bagels from Bagelicious Deli & Bakery in Ocala,” your tweet announced.
But it turned out the photo had actually been taken back on Dec. 17, just before your last public appearance. That was the press conference where you and your anti-masker surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, touted the value of monoclonal antibodies and proclaimed “Early Treatment Saves Lives.”
The daily tally of new COVID cases had already begun to rise from 1,477 to 8,785 over the previous two weeks. But neither you nor Ladapo uttered so much as a syllable about mitigation and preventing Floridians from needing treatment in the first place.
That was the last time you and Ladapo appeared in public. You put in an appearance on Fox News on Dec. 19, where you revealed that you had chosen not to get the booster.
“I’ve done whatever I did, the normal shot, and that at the end of the day is people’s individual decisions about what they want to do,” you told Maria Bartiromo.
You said nothing at all as the daily count of new COVID cases rose past 20,194 to 31,622. It hit a startling 77,848 on Thursday and seems likely to keep climbing. And all the while, you were nowhere to be seen in person.
Among the things people might have asked was why you closed the state-run COVID testing sites back in May, saying they were longer necessary.
“Our view is that this is so available throughout society right now that people obviously have the opportunity to get a test,” you told the press.
With a sudden surge triggered by the Omicron variant around the time of your departure from view, a frantic demand for testing far exceeded the capacity of private physicians and pharmacies and local health departments. People waited in line for five hours or more, sometimes only to be told to come back the next day.
“Our residents—all Florida residents—should be outraged,” Orlando County Mayor Jerry Demings declared. “They should ask the question: Now, where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?”
You, Ron, offered no response. But a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health maintained in an email that all was well.
“As of today, as a result of the collaboration between the Department of Health in Orange County and the Orange County government, there are no unmet resource requests—from municipalities, hospitals, or private practices,” the spokesman, Weesam Khoury, said in an email.
The cry of “Where is Ron?” was taken up by numerous other officials. They not surprisingly included state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who hopes to become the next governor.
“Everybody’s entitled to some downtime, with [their] families, especially during the holidays, but Floridians across the state of Florida are having their own vacations and holiday time ruined because they’re sitting in line for five hours,” she told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.
Fried reported that she had been privately told “by somebody pretty high up” with “direct information” that the state had a stockpile of “hundreds of hundreds of thousands” of COVID tests that will expire at the end of this month. She issued a public appeal for you, Ron, to release the tests before they become useless. Your only response came via your press secretary, who essentially said the matter was outside Fried’s purview.
You did make one more Fox News appearance, on Dec. 22, this time with Dan Bongino. You and your host said nothing about your constituents’ desperate clamoring for COVID tests. Bongino instead spoke about how easy it had been for him to get a monoclonal antibody treatment in Florida when he contracted a “particularly nasty” case of COVID.
“Why aren’t other governors around the country replicating this really effective strategy that worked for me?” Bongino asked. “It couldn’t have been easier.”
You replied that the blame begins with “people like Dr. Fauci” who have “really shied away from talking about any type of treatment of COVID-19 and they are constantly talking about vaccinations.”
That was no surprise, as you had been hawking T-shirts stenciled with “Don’t Fauci My Florida.”
But then you outdid yourself, Ron. You actually criticized other locales for not anticipating coming surges of COVID.
“I think we know we’re gonna see these waves,” you said. “And so they should not be running out of monoclonal antibody treatments. This is something that everyone knew was gonna be something that was needed. We’re gonna keep fighting for them in Florida.”
You added, “But it is sad that we actually have to do that. And there are some places throughout the country, uh, where it’s virtually impossible for people who need these treatments to get them, and that’s wrong.”
Maybe you had been so busy ignoring the present surge in Florida that you failed to note a Dec. 21 report in Nature that “preliminary experiments suggest that most of the antibody treatments for the disease are powerless against Omicron.”
Maybe a surgeon general actually who respects science would have alerted you to such a significant development.
If nothing else, Ron, you should now not only show yourself, but show up and warn your constituents. Tell them that two of the three monoclonal antibody treatments you have championed appear to be of little use against the new variant. And that the third is in such short supply it is being reserved for dire cases.
Then maybe you can do something with any stockpiled tests before they expire. You could also advise people to wear masks. You might even set a good example by getting a booster.