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Coronavirus in Florida

Nikki Fried takes to national media, says Floridians believe Gov. DeSantis ‘never cared about them’

The relationship between Fried and Gov. DeSantis shows no signs of improving.

Hours after state health officials confirmed 133 new COVID-19 deaths, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried appeared on national media to criticize Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s leadership.

Speaking with CNN’s Brianna Keilar, Fried told a national audience DeSantis has no plan and does not care about Floridians.

“The problem is the Governor has lost the faith and the trust from the people of our state,” Fried said. “They no longer count on the data coming out. They no longer believe that he has a plan for our future and they believe he’s never cared about them. There’s been no empathy shown whatsoever from this Governor and no humility that when we did flatten the curve, he went on the national circus and went across the entire state claiming mission accomplished.”

Fried also criticized  DeSantis for looking to the White House for answers.

She cited a statement DeSantis made Monday suggesting he would call the White House later that evening.

“Our hospital beds are at capacity and all he keeps talking about is what’s happening at the White House or what’s happening in our hospitals,” Fried said. “How about we work together to try to prevent people from actually getting sick and being in the hospital to begin with.”

Fried highlighted her advocacy for a statewide mask mandate and her willingness to “take a step backwards.”

“We need to take a slower approach,” Fried said. “We need to make sure we are enforcing the ones that are open. We need to be able to look at some of these establishments and say ‘should you have been open?’ ‘Are you following the CDC recommendations and guidelines?’ And if not, we need to be taking a pause and not seeing us move forward to opening back up more parts of our state.”

Later Tuesday, Fried continued her crusade against DeSantis, appearing on Cheddar.

There, she criticized DeSantis for not working with his Cabinet through the reopening process.

“He reopened too fast,” said Fried. “We had a very methodical, data-driven reopening plan that he threw out the window. He opened up too fast, went to phase one, and then went to phase two. There was absolutely zero accountability to local establishments for not following those guidelines.”

Fried accused DeSantis of “putting his head down in the sand” and criticized him for inviting the RNC and the NBA to Florida.

“Basically he’s shown no leadership,” Fried said. “Part of the problem is he’s not taking this seriously and so when he doesn’t take it seriously, how can businesses and the people of our state take it seriously?”

As of Tuesday morning, Florida’s respective COVID-19 death toll now totals to 4,409, including 133 new deaths confirmed Monday. The previous record mortality in a single report was 120, reached Thursday.

Written By

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.

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