With the COVID-19 pandemic resurgent, Senate Democrats Thursday blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis‘s efforts both to slow the virus’ spread and to provide transparent leadership that could increase trust in government.
Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer and others charged in a Senate Democratic Caucus Zoom call Thursday that DeSantis’ approach amounts to trusting herd immunity until vaccines are widely available. They contended it is not only crippling Florida’s health, but also its economy.
In addition, Sens. Victor Torres and Lori Berman and others claimed the Governor is controlling information through potential manipulations of data and muzzling information about the coronavirus crisis. They cited reports ranging from the DeSantis administration’s thwarting public records requests to long delays on delivering data, and from reports of gag orders on local health officials, to, at minimum, tacitly approving the raid on whistleblower Rebekah Jones‘s home.
All the while, DeSantis is not only going mask-less himself at campaign events, but he is hosting big parties at the Governor’s mansion, charged Sens. Janet Cruz and Tina Polsky.
Meanwhile, Florida has neither an improving health situation nor an improving economy, Farmer said.
“The Governor can sketch the rosiest of pictures and manipulate all the data that he wants, but the word is out that he does not have this virus under control and has no interest in doing so,” said Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart. “No one is advocating for a shutdown, but as the virus goes, so goes the economy.”
What the Democrats did advocate for Thursday are a new statewide plan, a statewide mask policy, more input from scientific and medical advisers, autonomy for local officials who want to do more, and new commitments to transparency and open government.
“It is time this Governor recognized that and get his head out from under the President’s behind and lead and represent this state,” said Sen. Perry Thurston Jr.
“Here’s the bottom line,” Farmer declared. “Every trend we are looking at right now, whether it be health or financial, is on a significant negative slope.”
“The pandemic is growing in the state of Florida. And as we’ve seen in other states, when measures are taken to prevent the spread, not only does the health of the residents of those states improve, but the economics of those states improves,” Farmer added.
Torres expanded the call for action and added criticism to Attorney General Ashley Moody. Torres said she needs to investigate potential violations of Florida’s Sunshine laws by DeSantis, and criticized her for instead wasting the state’s time on a partisan “frivolous” lawsuit, joining the Texas suit seeking the Supreme Court’s help in President Donald Trump‘s attempt to overthrow the 2020 presidential election.
“Our trust in the executive branch has been shaken to its core,” Torres said.