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Fried continues to slam the Governor.

Coronavirus in Florida

‘Failure of leadership’: Nikki Fried slams Ron DeSantis for keeping churches open

Conflict heats up on Plaza Level.

Even as the coronavirus curve may be flattening, a war of words continues between the Governor and the Commissioner of Agriculture.

The latest salvo was fired on cable’s MSNBC, where increasingly frequent guest Nikki Fried, the Democratic Agriculture Commissioner, slammed Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for failing to lead amid the coronacrisis.

Fried, along with certain other statewide Democrats, have said that DeSantis has been too slow to implement social distancing measures, and has been inconsistent upon that implementation.

The most recent example, a gubernatorial greenlight for Easter services, led a frustrated Fried to fulminate Friday to MSNBC host Chris Hayes about DeSantis’ “dangerous piecemealing” approach to coronavirus crackdowns.

Fried noted the delayed “shutdown” of the state, via DeSantis’ “stay-at-home” order that she had called for weeks before a version of the executive edict appeared.

“It’s the same thing we’ve been seeing time and time again, unfortunately, from the Governor … a failure of leadership,” Fried blasted, “from the very beginning of this pandemic to his comments yesterday.”

Fried decried what she depicted as a pattern of “misinformation,” saying “words have consequences.”

Fried had castigated DeSantis for “failure to lead” when he originally issued the order, but her castigation didn’t drive a change of heart.

DeSantis doubled down on previous guidance Thursday, offering unsolicited endorsement for Sunday churchgoing ahead of a meeting on an unrelated topic.

“We have said repeatedly that we want people to be spiritually together, but socially distanced,” the first-term Republican said in the Cabinet room at the state Capitol.

“As you keep God close,” DeSantis advised, “during these important religious days, make sure you continue to keep COVID-19 away.”

Whether religious observances stand in the way of flattening the curve remains to be seen.

Evidence from elsewhere suggests that churches can be consecratory crucibles of community spread.

In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly told media that churches had contributed to multiple clusters of COVID-19 positivity.

Kansas City’s KCTV noted that a Church of God conference in that city led to 18 attendees being hospitalized, with three of them passing away from the disease.

Meanwhile, for Fried and DeSantis, each elected in 2018, there appears to be nothing but conflict ahead, with the fight against coronavirus becoming just one more battle in a war without end on the Plaza Level.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at

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