Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried said she’s doing her best to fill the void that Gov. Ron DeSantis has left in his refusal to deal with the resurgence of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Fried, a Democrat candidate for Governor, spoke via Zoom to the Mid-County Democratic Club in Palm Beach County Monday night and 15 listeners came.
“I feel like I’m wearing four hats at this point — Commissioner, Governor, emergency management (director), and candidate,” Fried said.
Fried slammed DeSantis’ refusal to provide daily data on COVID-19 infections, his order that takes away school districts’ authority to order that all students wear masks, and the way he’s selling merchandise poking fun at Dr. Anthony Fauci, an American physician-scientist and immunologist serving as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to the President. She decried how the “radical right” has taken over the state’s agenda.
“We are in an emergency situation, and this Governor is playing COVID-19 roulette with our lives,” she said. “ … He’s governing for a loud minority.”
To get to the Governor’s Mansion, Fried must first get past Charlie Crist in the Democratic Primary Election for the right to face DeSantis in next year’s General Election. Although he hasn’t announced, DeSantis is widely assumed to be running for reelection.
“We’re done with it, and we’ve got to break the system,” Fried said. “ … We’re in a chaos that’s been spewed and created by this Governor, and we’ve got to stand together and say, ‘Enough is enough.’”
Club members urged Fried to keep going. Ellen Baker said she’s a special education teacher in Palm Beach County schools, and she’s currently under quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19 at work. Parents are signing the paperwork that lets their children go without a mask, she said.
“Opt-out is alive and well,” Baker said, noting that she was seeing about 34 kids a day among the nine classes she visited before her quarantine.
The burden that the optional mask policy is putting on teachers is unbelievable, Fried said.
“How do you know who’s supposed to be wearing a mask and who’s not?” she said.
Fried urged everyone in attendance to keep sharing stories about the impact the COVID-19 resurgence is having on them.
“The fundamentals of the Ten Commandments is to protect your neighbor …” she said. “We live in a community, and we have to recognize that we don’t live in isolation and our actions have a direct impact on our neighbor.”