Accusations of lying fly on Florida COVID-19 hospitalization numbers

DeSantis Fried 3.25.21
The Nikki Fried/Ron DeSantis feud continues.

Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ press secretary on Sunday accused his political rival, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, of posting a lie about how badly the new COVID-19 crisis is hitting Florida hospitals, drawing heated responses Monday, including a counter charge that press secretary Christina Pushaw lied.

It’s a battle largely being played out on Twitter.

It appears to come down to the two sides — the Governor’s press secretary versus Fried and her media consultant — relying on two different sources of data, resulting in two different numbers cited for the same purpose.

Fried, a Democrat running against DeSantis in the 2022 gubernatorial election campaign, and Kevin Cate, a Democratic political consultant, offered data to back up the assertion Fried made on Sunday that it was the worst day yet for COVID-19 hospitalizations in Florida.

Cate expressed outrage Monday that the Governor’s official press secretary had called a Florida Cabinet member a liar. Cate also implied that Pushaw’s response appeared to continue what he saw as an Executive Office of the Governor effort to downplay the current COVID-19 surge even as Florida hospitals fill anew with virus patients.

“Call me old fashioned, but it’s a pretty big deal when the Governor’s office spokesperson calls another statewide official a liar — especially about easily verifiable hospitalization numbers … in the middle of a pandemic!!” Cate wrote in an email to Florida journalists.

In a followup email, Cate, who consults for Fried’s gubernatorial campaign, accused DeSantis of “having his spokespeople lie.”

Pushaw, who became DeSantis’ press secretary in May, and who has since been almost continuously engaged in tweet-storm fights with Democrats, journalists, and other DeSantis critics, replied Monday that her tweet expressed a problem with Fried’s statement — not with Fried herself.

She also defended her position with data showing Sunday was not Florida’s worst day yet for COVID hospitalizations.

“I did not call anyone a ‘liar,’ because I always try to take aim (at) the statement, not the individual,” Pushaw responded in an email to Florida Politics. “But it is true that Fried did not offer an accurate picture of the state’s response to COVID-19 at her briefing, and this is a theme with her. There is some confusion over a comparison to July 23, 2020.”

It all began Sunday when Fried distributed, via Twitter, her latest video statement on the summer surge of COVID-19. The video was accompanied by a Fried tweet summarizing, “Florida hospitals are being overwhelmed by COVID admissions, almost entirely unvaccinated individuals, including young and middle age Floridians. It’s worse than the worst last year.”

Pushaw’s Twitter reply: “This is a lie. The worst day for COVID hospitalizations was last year, July 22, 2020 — before vaccines were available. Now with most adults in Florida vaccinated, we aren’t ‘worse off’ than we were last year, unless @NikkiFried is saying the vaccines don’t work? Irresponsible.”

Fried said in a later tweet that she based her assertion on data provided by the Florida Hospital Association that said there were 10,207 current hospital admissions due to COVID-19 in Florida on Sunday, and that the previous state high had been 10,179 admissions, on July 23, 2020.

“We reported this yesterday and the Governor’s office called me a liar. Ron DeSantis is the problem,” Fried tweeted Monday morning.

Cate went further in his email to Florida Politics.

“It’s just such a shocking, dangerous, irresponsible verifiably false accusation from the Governor’s Office,” Cate wrote. “They have the accurate data. They are the ones withholding it. DeSantis knows Nikki is telling the truth and trying to save lives, jobs, and our way of life. But instead of changing course and following Nikki’s lead, he’s having his spokespeople lie and hide because the data is inconvenient to his political aspirations.”

Pushaw’s response said those accusations are false, and that no one in the administration is offering inaccurate data or trying to hide anything.

“It is surprising and disappointing that a prominent elected official like Commissioner Fried would be spreading innuendo that unfairly undermines trust in Florida’s public health authorities during a pandemic,” she wrote in her reply to Florida Politics.

She explained, “This is a comparison of data from two different sources, and other sources report a different peak in July 2020.”

She said the Governor’s Office is relying on official data posted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which show more than 11,000 Florida hospital inpatient beds being used for COVID-19 patients during mid-July in 2020 — clearly more than the 10,207 Fried cited for Sunday.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


59 comments

  • tjb

    August 2, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    DeSantis wants to discredit Nikki because if she reviews the Covid information on a daily basis, we are constantly being reminded how poorly Desantis’s Covid policies and directives are performing.
    If you look at the statistics for the number of Covid 19 death by the state, it appears that Florida has more death per thousand than CA, MI, and NY.
    Again, Florida is the epicenter of Covid 19. Maybe Cuomo and Newson can help DeSantis to bring down the covid 19 death rate.

    • Tom

      August 3, 2021 at 10:40 am

      LMAO, tjb and other leftists.
      America’s Governor does not have to discredit as she already is a flip flopper.she is discredited. She says she’s not for lockdowns. You know why ? cause Floridians are not, just like she says she’s not for mask mandates
      Axios reports that even Dems are opposed to lockdowns. Flip flopper fraud is sophomoric and belittling. She comes across like a dragon and has nothing to offer. The Dem aristocrat party is out of touch with peeps. Again, it’s over DeSantis wins!
      Flip flopper fraud doesn’t have anything to offer. DeSantis saved seniors, opened schools, protected and saved business and working people.
      Shellacking coming for flip flopper snd her negative ways. Fraud the flip flopper!

      • Ashley

        August 15, 2021 at 12:49 am

        That Fried skank is nothing but a big fat lying demonrat. If you believe one word she says, then you need psychological help!

    • Tom

      August 3, 2021 at 10:40 am

      LMAO, tjb and other leftists.
      America’s Governor does not have to discredit as she already is a flip flopper.she is discredited. She says she’s not for lockdowns. You know why ? cause Floridians are not, just like she says she’s not for mask mandates
      Axios reports that even Dems are opposed to lockdowns. Flip flopper fraud is sophomoric and belittling. She comes across like a dragon and has nothing to offer. The Dem aristocrat party is out of touch with peeps. Again, it’s over DeSantis wins!
      Flip flopper fraud doesn’t have anything to offer. DeSantis saved seniors, opened schools, protected and saved business and working people.
      Shellacking coming for flip flopper snd her negative ways. Fraud the flip flopper!

    • Scott

      August 3, 2021 at 12:26 pm

      Then why aren’t people or at least Democrats fleeing Florida for CA, NY or else where ???

    • vince

      August 7, 2021 at 11:52 am

      You are actually citing a rapist as your answer! What an idiot.

    • Scott Abbott

      August 10, 2021 at 6:25 pm

      Wrong . Just more fear mongering on you leftists part.

      • Peterh

        August 10, 2021 at 6:43 pm

        The DeSantis policies didn’t erupt overnight. They’ve been nurtured for two years in coordination with Donald Trump’s failed leadership policies.

        For the past six weeks DeSantis has marketed Florida as a maskless Covid free safe haven. This has attracted his national band of unvaccinated maskless followers to use our State as an experimental tourist Covid petri dish. The outcome was swift and predictable to anyone who believes in science.

        Join common sense real conservatives at the Lincoln Project. Our goal is to completely destroy today’s Republican Party so it can be rebuilt from the ground up. DeSantis and his ilk need to be voted out of office.

        • Ashley

          August 15, 2021 at 12:52 am

          Failed? I’m glad you love higher gas prices, higher electricity prices, inflation and all that jazz. When President Trump was in office, we didn’t have those issues. Since you’re stupid and don’t need your money, give it to me. You must get food stamps since you’re not worried about all these higher costs!

          • Gary

            August 16, 2021 at 2:55 pm

            If you like lower gas prices, then you should favor bringing back President Obama. Gas was down to $2/gal during his presidency.

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 2, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    Thank you Nikki! Get the truth and facts! Those truths and facts prove Duffus Desantis is willingly slaughtering Floridians!

    • Punkass

      August 2, 2021 at 6:14 pm

      You mean kinda like Cuomo?? If your a Floridian just leave this state….. you probably own a house in the Hamptons. You liberals know nothing about facts… You run from them….

      • Bertha

        August 3, 2021 at 8:18 am

        Exactly! Truth honesty and Respect is never a part of politics anymore, especially towards any Republican! That Nikki chick is going down like the lies she’s spewing about our great Governor

    • Dale K

      August 3, 2021 at 5:26 pm

      He hasn’t slaughtered anybody. He’s done what every daang state in the Union should be doing. In my county in Florida the hospitals said they have plenty of beds. They want vaccinated people to wear mask but in our county not a single person who has tested positive has had the vaccine. Seems dems are still lying and youre still buying.

    • Sandy

      August 4, 2021 at 7:43 pm

      Come and look at the hospitals!!! Many systems ICU’s are full. That is all the truth we need. All these lies kept people from getting vaccinated, just the same as the believers in election fraud want to overthrow the government. Doesn’t really matter cuz we’ll all be dead next year anyways!

    • Ashley

      August 15, 2021 at 12:53 am

      How does it feel to be so gullible and ignorant all at the same time?

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 2, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Nurse Nikki Rachet Wants to vax you.

    • vito

      August 4, 2021 at 4:53 pm

      if covid is so bad. what the f did I just sit in 45 minutes of traffic and why are people still out working? HUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE

  • Ed

    August 2, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    So what would Nikki do different? Close down the airports, close the amusement parks and beaches. We have a Covid spike here because everyone is vacationing here. Now let’s talk about the Southern Border and the Covid positive illegals from over 150 countries bringing who knows what new variant of Covid. Would Nikki support closing the Southern Border?

    • Andrew Finn

      August 2, 2021 at 9:03 pm

      Even without the virus running wild we should close up the Southern Border. Enough of the illegals flooding into our country. Use whatever means necessary to do it, the Army, the National Guard, anybody with a large weapon, whatever it takes. It could be closed up tight if we really wanted to do it.

      • LJ

        August 3, 2021 at 1:23 am

        truth

    • Michael Barnett

      August 3, 2021 at 12:12 am

      Yes shut it down again. People are dying. The federal government has supplied the state of Florida with funds to supplement such shutdowns, but the governor is not releasing funds . Someone should figure out why?

      • Dale K

        August 3, 2021 at 5:29 pm

        Heck no we do not shut down again. People are going to die but more die from the flu than is dying from this variant. Get educated!!!

        • Steve

          August 4, 2021 at 4:29 am

          Actually you clown that’s 100% completely false the flu is 80% down from previous years. Overall with what people have been doing with sanitizing more often, wearing masks, has reduced the flu transmission greatly. I don’t know where you’re getting your facts from because you just running your mouth like so many of you far right Reps. The governor is up to no good hiding the money that is actually the federal government’s money there’s already a lawsuit against him and he will lose. This state by far is #1 trending upwards with Covid infections. This variant is the most deadly and highly contagious compared to the others. Yes the areas that are having serious issues should be on lockdown, vaccination should be mandatory if you want to travel, go to the gym, any type of close gathering that is public you should have to be vaccinated otherwise you just don’t go tough luck. Masks should absolutely be mandatory. If you don’t like it get the hell out of Florida. the governor is trying to hide behind his people because he opened everything up and look what happens. It’s very easy to see and you have to be very ignorant if you don’t realize what’s happening.

          • Ty G

            August 4, 2021 at 7:03 am

            So, to preface, the flu is not down. it was mistcounted.
            The recall of the PCR test because it can’t differentiate between cold and flu by the CDC on Jun 26th completely contradicts your rhetoric, to begin with.
            Flu was down 98% last year, allegedly, and the PCR test was just recalled by the cdc cuz it can’t distinguish between coronavirus and flu. refer to the cdc website to confirm. 60 to 74% of global breakthrough and delta variant cases are AMONGST THE VACCINATED. lockdowns DID NOT WORK. refer also to the cdc website to confirm. to confirm all of these facts, reference EVERY SINGLE NEWS AGENCY ON THE PLANET, even those that were formerly for lockdowns.

            While I do not like much of the xenophobia expressed by desantis, if you want dystopia, go to colorado where I was a year ago. A neoliberal hell hole that has lost 90% of its small businesses and restaurants. A place where the people were so immobilized by conditioned irrational fear from the mainstream media, such as you are expressing, that you can get fired for not being able to wear a mask, despite having a health exemption.

            A place where we marched against lockdowns and masking, got called right wing (though all spectrum were present at those marches) crazy conspiracy theorists for it, and were right in hindsight to those who couldn’t see clearly from the onset.

            If you want dystopia, it’s not hard to find. just go to a shitlib state like michigan, colorado, or california. Me, personally, i’m going to continue to enjoy the freedom of florida, though I had told myself ten years ago when I left that i would never return.

          • Ashley

            August 15, 2021 at 12:55 am

            I haven’t heard of one flu case this year, imbecile. That’s virtually impossible!

      • Patty P

        August 4, 2021 at 7:06 pm

        Are people dying? The number of hospitalizations is not the same as deaths. Just what is the death rate and are there co-morbidities? Getting the virus doesn’t mean a person will die. I had it. I’m fine. Didn’t even go to the hospital. And I’m old, fat and diabetic with type A blood. All the scare buttons that Biden pushes.

    • Jerry Johnson

      August 3, 2021 at 12:57 am

      A good start would be to allow local authorities be able to respond with action to respond to local conditions. Governor is ignoring professional medical advice and endangering Floridians.

      • LJ

        August 3, 2021 at 1:29 am

        The gov. is putting nobody st risk. It is a free country, if you want get the shot, wear a mask. No one is stopping you. If you dont want to do this that is ok too. The government has been telling us lies since day one, grossly inflating the numbers. If they really gave a dam the southern border would be closed.

        • tjb

          August 3, 2021 at 9:12 am

          Florida is the epicenter of new covid cases … we are free to die or give Covid to others.

      • Dale K

        August 3, 2021 at 5:33 pm

        No hes not. You have no clue what he’s doing. Just cause Freid say so its more than likely a lie. Our county has plenty of beds and equipment and PPE. This came straight from the hospitals and our EOC. It’s not as bad as she says.

        • Jon

          August 4, 2021 at 4:31 am

          Ok you clown. what because you said so? Where is your references ? Actually it’s the other way around the f acts are the fax look them up.

  • Anthony

    August 3, 2021 at 3:20 am

    So Shady DeSdeSade is nitpicking and relying on Federal numbers and not his own state’s numbers? Who is really undermining faith in the State response? Quibbling to distract from the fact that give or take a few hundred cases, his response has been inadequate and negligent. There’s been quite enough of this inexcusable behavior.

  • Mark

    August 3, 2021 at 4:08 am

    Best Gov in any state right now.
    Tells it like it is Go Ron….

  • Harold Finch

    August 3, 2021 at 8:26 am

    Well I am no fan of Fried as Ag Commissioner, but on this issue she is exactly right!! And DeSantis is an absolute idiot, who seems to be totally oblivious to the catastrophic situation now being created by the Delta strain of the virus. Even worse, the Senate President and House Speaker are dong the same thing!!!
    A lot of people are going to die, and they will be partially responsible for, including children.
    Wilton Simpson, you better wake up!!!!!

  • PeterH

    August 3, 2021 at 10:38 am

    Team DeSantis will continue to lie …… he learned the deception from the grand master of lying!

    AUGUST 3, 2021; NEWS ALERT IN FROM FLORIDA’S HOSPITALS

    The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida rose to an all-time high of 11,515 patients in one day, according to data the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Tuesday.

    The data is used by the Florida Hospital Association to track admissions and staffing shortages. The figures also show 2,400 of those patients are in ICU beds.

    The previous day, the data showed there were 10,389 COVID-hospitalizations in the state.

    “This unnecessary surge will cause much pain and suffering before it gets better” ….Dr. Fauci

    Let’s bring some common sense sanity back to the Republican Party. Join real conservatives at the Lincoln Project and set the agenda for a new GOP.

    GET VACCINATED

    • Tom

      August 3, 2021 at 10:49 am

      See above reply to tjb as it applies to the rest of the aristocrat party.
      Flip flopper Fraud! This is golden message for shellacking.
      LMAO.

      • Tom

        August 5, 2021 at 5:09 pm

        Yes Fraud flip flopper has the credibility on numbers accounting and earnings. I’ll take America’s Governor for $1000.00. LMAO.
        Can’t make the fraud up.

    • John

      August 3, 2021 at 11:37 am

      Those are bloated numbers due to unreliable PCR testing that even the CDC recently admits can not detect the 19 from the flu. The vaccinated are the ones spreading it now as normal people have natural immunity. If you got vaccinated, you got suckered. Enjoy the heart failure and clots.

    • Ty G

      August 4, 2021 at 7:05 am

      60 to 74% of breakthrough and delta variant cases are amongstt he vaccinated. to confirm, just reference EVERY NEWS AGENCY ON THE PLANET. luls.

      freedom of body autonomy. inalienable rights. for those who don’t know all this happened before in the 2 decades leading up to world war 2. the mandatory masking of 1922, the complete stock market crash of 28, and hitler’s rise to power in 32, followed by the TB epidemic of 35. important to note, much of hitler’s funding came from US congress in this time, and hitler used that money to propagandize the third reich by using the horrible conditions in america as an example. To confirm this, learn to do a ‘basic web search’.

  • John

    August 3, 2021 at 11:30 am

    She is full of it. I transport these patients and a few that I have transported where break through cases and had been vaccinated. Also I am not witnessing with in any hospital or nursing facility a significant surge in cases. This is all pure fear mongering to pressure those who do not want to be vaccinated.

    • Ty G

      August 4, 2021 at 7:08 am

      Exactly John. they tried this exact same rhetoric last year and it was continually proven false. In a nation where people still believe modernized lies about wmds in iraq, yemen, afghanistan, iran, syria, etc etc etc though, you have to account for fear mongering gullible fools glued to watching fear porn hysteria news that has no basis in actual accredited science.

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 3, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    Check the box covid, pull the lever, receive thousands of fed tax handouts. CHING CHING CHING! Repeat, check-pull CHING CHING CHING!! Check – pull check-pull CHING CHING CHING!! Check-pull check-pull check- pull CHING CHING CHING CHING CHING CHING CHING CHING CHING CHING …

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 3, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    Would a hospital administrator knowingly fudge data with scam tests in order to real millions in tax dollars.” But these tests are certified, I’m doing nothing wrong. That the common cold is lumped in with covid -19 is neither here nor there. Here, I will place my hand on a cop of the Origin of Species and swear by it. Now are you satisfied? You Jesus Christer, when are you idiots going to die off?”

  • PeterH

    August 3, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    The numbers that I quoted are from Covid HOSPITALIZED adults and children. Many are on ventilator and in intensive care. Continue to live in your Florida Land of Magical Thinking.

    Further, 97% of worldwide Covid hospitalizations involve the unvaccinated. Floridians should be listening to their doctor and scientific studies ….. and ignore unapologetic spin masters.

    • Ty G

      August 4, 2021 at 7:10 am

      State your sources. the CDC is reporting 60 to 74% of breakthrough and delta variant cases are amongst the vaccinated, as is every news agency around the globe and every health agency around the globe, including the WHO.

      I research alot and when I saw your post it was clearly obvious absolute fear mongering bullshit. So state your sources so I can easily discredit them.

      to confirm the 60 to 74% and the recall of the PCR test by the CDC since it can’t differentiate between covid and flu, reference the CDC website or do a basic search for any news agency currently on planet earth.

      Thanks for playing. sorry you lost your mind to government subsidied propagandistic mind control..

  • Myrna Swyers

    August 3, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    Why are not the patients who are actually in the hospitals with COVID interviewed ? I was in a Miami hospital in quarantine for six days in January 2021 and there were only three other Covid patients there at that time ! Absolutely NOT overflowing with patients. In fact ,a fried of mine was laid off at that time !

  • Scott in FL

    August 3, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    Imagine how many lives could be saved if Democrats cared this much about the unborn.

  • PeterH

    August 3, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Imagine how many lives could have been saved had Republican governors and Donald Trump hadn’t politicized masks, and vaccines!

    Imagine for a minute if Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic had said:

    “….look I’m an unapologetic narcissist who cares much more about comb over hair. I don’t want to disturb my appearance…..and I have a half dozen on-the-spot health care professionals in my White House residence…..so I won’t be wearing a mask. BUT I WANT YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBORS TO TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION TO SAVE YOURSELF AND OTHERS…..”

    That’s what a competent responsible miserable racist birther fraud narcissist would have stated.

    Instead, we have stupids …..and 700,000 WANTED AND LOVED dead Americans.

    • Jon

      August 4, 2021 at 4:32 am

      Ok you clown. what because you said so? Where is your references ? Actually it’s the other way around the f acts are the fax look them up.

      • Jon

        August 4, 2021 at 4:36 am

        Meant for Dale K. Not Peter. That’s true what you’re saying.

    • Mike

      August 4, 2021 at 4:33 am

      LOL truth

  • Juan

    August 3, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    I’m so sick of him we will get him out of government soon

  • Dale K

    August 3, 2021 at 5:34 pm

    Heck no we do not shut down again. People are going to die but more die from the flu than is dying from this variant. Get educated!!!

      • Ty G

        August 4, 2021 at 7:13 am

        the BLOOMBERG johns hopkins school of medicine has continually and repeatedly been proven wrong over the last 18 months. they are NOT a credible source. 🙂

        Let’s also not forget bloomberg was a good friend of epstein (one of the leaders of the transhumanist political party, if you know who THEY ARE or THEIR AGENDA) and lies all the time about his involvement in global human underage sex trafficking of american and foreign children. 🙂

  • Alexander Cruz

    August 4, 2021 at 9:50 am

    What I hope but the governor would volunteer himself to work at a hospital full with covid patients so he can see for himself that this is a very bad situation is happening in Florida

  • Rich T

    August 13, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    Something strange is going on with FL covid stats: new cases are rising fast but deaths are falling.fast. The usual behavior is for the deaths to rise if cases are rising. It appears covid deaths are being greatly underreported.

    • Ashley

      August 15, 2021 at 1:04 am

      Or, the positive covid cases or being over reported. Where’s the flu this year? Ohhhh, it just up and disappeared!!! Why are liberals so damn ignorant! BTW nimrod, if covid numbers are truly up it’s because your butt Buddy Biden has opened up our borders to any and all without testing. I guess common sense isn’t a strong point for you.

Comments are closed.


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