Ryan Gorman: Florida descends into coronavirus chaos

Coronavirus Florida 47
With lives and our state economy hanging in the balance, let's hope Gov. DeSantis is right, and everyone else is wrong.

“It’s a real-life experiment. We’re going to see how effective some of this is,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis about aggressive mitigation measures other states and countries are taking to combat COVID-19.

With all due respect, Governor, it’s not an experiment, and we know which actions are effective and which ones aren’t.

From India to Idaho, leaders across the world are ordering residents to stay home as the novel coronavirus wreaks havoc on lives, health care systems, and economies. Yet somehow Gov. DeSantis knows better than all of them, including top health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci and former Trump administration FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who both applauded states that have adopted statewide shutdowns.

Recently, when asked why he hasn’t imposed similar restrictions, DeSantis said he questions the most alarming forecasts. But he doesn’t need to look at modeling to know how a lackluster response to this outbreak will play out.

Unfortunately, Italy also tried to hold off on shutting down portions of the country that weren’t hot spots. That strategy didn’t last long, and now they lead the world in COVID-19 deaths.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempted to keep parts of the country open while advising older and more vulnerable citizens to stay home.

This week he reversed course, and the country is now locked down.

We’ve also seen examples stateside of strict mitigation measures vs. weak ones.

Kentucky took early steps to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, while Tennessee did not. Looking at per capita case numbers, Tennessee is now facing a much more significant problem in slowing down the virus.

Gov. DeSantis has justified his decisions by pointing to the ability of local governments to set their own policies. That has led to chaos across the state, with different municipalities choosing to take different measures, creating confusion among residents, and slowing down critical mitigation efforts.

In the Tampa Bay area, Mayors are pushing for more stringent steps, while county commissioners and other officials share opposing perspectives.

In the meantime, the spread of COVID-19 continues in a state with the largest 70+ population in the country.

He has also pointed to parts of the state that aren’t feeling the impact of the outbreak like South Florida currently is. However, with the testing issues we’ve seen, are we sure the virus isn’t spreading in rural communities?

Even if those areas of Florida are safe at the moment, wouldn’t it be wise to keep them that way through a statewide shutdown, so we can focus limited resources on regions that need it most?

At a time when leadership isn’t just needed but is vital to ensure the safety of Floridians, our Governor has taken a contrarian position to that of most other leaders and public health officials.

He has chosen to pass the toughest decisions along to cities and counties, as the case number skyrockets, the death toll mounts, and our massive elderly and at-risk population grows more concerned.

With lives and our state economy hanging in the balance, let’s hope Gov. DeSantis is right, and everyone else is wrong.

If not, this will go down as an all-time failure of governance in a time of crisis.


Ryan Gorman is the host of PM Tampa Bay on NewsRadio WFLA and national news host for iHeartRadio.

Guest Author


  • Marlene

    March 26, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    Yes, “governor,” listen to your constituents (ALL of them), not just your Dear Leader.

    • John

      March 27, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Exactly, my friend. Early on, had more confidence in the governor. And then there was a clear shift after he got his marching orders from Dear Leader.

    • Cheryl

      March 27, 2020 at 6:29 pm

      Call the Florida Chamber of Commerce. They are advising the Florida governor to keep business open. He is follow ing their advice as he gets a lot of campaign donations. They are more concerned with money then your health. I reminded the receptionist that you can carry the virus and be not have any symptoms. Should we all hang out in the executive directors office…..how selfish! (850) 521-1200

  • Dennis

    March 26, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Bravo Ryan! Well said, well said indeed.

  • Sam

    March 26, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    I generally vote Democrat but I agree with the Gov on this one. Life in Broward County does not bear a close resemblance to life in Bradford or Baker, so the idea of leaving the panic reactions up to local control makes sense to me. I don’t know that I will vote for him next time, but I’m in agreement on this.

    • Mike

      March 26, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      Did you vote for DeSantis?

      No offense but you’re wrong on both counts if you did, just as those two men were wrong on both of their impotent reactions to a crisis.

  • Mark Wheeler

    March 26, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    It’s the responsibility of each individual to take responsibility for themselves and family to be able to survive in a world to which is incapable of making their own life decisions and has to be quarantined by the government because they are ignorant of what lies ahead.

  • Carol

    March 26, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    This is a well articulated piece and represents what I have been thinking. The rural counties should be considered within the context of the region. They often rely on the nearest urban counties for their most serious health care needs. With lack of testing, we don’t really know that they are virus-free. It will take too long to determine that before we are at the point of no return.

    I, for one, am frustrated by the lack of state and local (SW Florida) failure to act on this. I agree that this is “chaos”. I am over 65 with some health risks. I am “advised” to stay at home by some, but my employer is relying on the US, state, and county to advise on this. So far, the message my employer states they are getting is that employees are at “low risk.” Without an official stay at home order I am required to show up to work. I can take leave and stay home, but I am eating up very limited time off hours allotted. I can take sick leave for the virus without losing some paybacks for having accumulated extra sick leave hours (which is one new concession given to employees), but if it is for 3 days or more, even as a preventive measure, I have to have a doctor sign off that I don’t have Covid-19 in order to return to work. So, how do I get a Covid-19 test to confirm I don’t have it if I have no symptoms?

    (I do realize that there are many people who do not even have the luxury of having my personal dilemma.) I often remind myself that I am grateful to the universe that this is all I am having to deal with right now…but….

    If it was a hurricane and a local emergency was declared by the state or county, I would be told to stay home as I am not an essential employee and it would not eat into my allotted time off.

    I actually could do my work from home, but my employer has not even considered allowing this because they are getting the message from the US, state, and county that this virus is really no big deal.

    I do hope the Governor is right. I work with data in my job. My stats don’t agree in the least with the Governor’s approach, but we will have other states to compare to Florida in the future and I hope I am proven wrong. Florida citizens, we are now apparently “lab rats” in this great experiment. I am not optimistic, but I wish the best to everyone, and especially our Governor.

  • John

    March 27, 2020 at 8:40 am

    “Chaos” sums it up, precisely. No cases in rural Florida? Have there been tests? I can’t get tested in Broward County because I’m not 65+ Or had contact with a “Confirmed” case when Florida has belatedly acknowledged community spread. Shameful that we lack tests and thus lack information. The governor is basing His decisions on the economy OR following White House marching orders-neither will save us.

    We are sacrificing the small counties in this scenario. Has anyone seen the kinsa thermometer temperature maps? Google it. It paints a much gloomier picture of many more with covid-like symptoms, and guess what, it isn’t exclusive to south Florida.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn