Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to ramp up the state’s response to the latest surge in Florida’s COVID-19 cases.
Cases are on the rise again as the omicron variant spreads across the U.S. COVID-19 cases have increased tenfold in Florida, and the state just experienced its worst week yet for new cases.
In a letter to the Governor, Fried — the sole Democrat currently elected to a statewide office — asked DeSantis to take several measures against the pandemic.
“Governors across the nation are being called upon to meet the urgency of this moment and redouble their efforts to fight this virus, and your fellow governors, both Republican and Democrat, are stepping up to the challenge,” Fried said.
DeSantis has grown popular among Republicans nationwide for his approach to the pandemic. Early polls for the 2024 Republican presidential Primary show the Governor as a frontrunner, unless former President Donald Trump mounts a third presidential campaign. Even with Trump on the ballot, DeSantis’ support is significant.
But before a possible 2024 run, DeSantis faces a re-election contest next year. Fried, who is one of several Democrats running to unseat him, called on DeSantis to increase the number of state-run COVID-19 testing facilities to address growing lines at testing sites.
She also asked the Governor to increase COVID-19 booster shots in nursing homes, help local governments establish testing and vaccination sites and get the Division of Emergency Management more involved in the response effort. She also wants the Governor to help school districts increase health safety.
“Millions of Florida children will return to school within two weeks,” Fried wrote. “With common-sense measures, from required face coverings to frequent disinfecting, in place during less transmissible COVID-19 variants, school districts will need to re-evaluate their plans and policies to ensure students, teachers, and school staff are safe in the classroom.”
Florida went from logging some of the nation’s lowest COVID-19 numbers to having one of America’s worst outbreaks in two weeks’ time. Only New York recorded more cases during the week, and Florida had the fifth-highest per capita infection rate.
Just two weeks ago, Florida counted just 14,749 new cases in the seven-day period from Monday, Dec. 6 through Sunday, Dec. 12, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The next week, through Dec. 19, Florida’s new caseload more than tripled to 49,473 new cases. In the most recent week, through Sunday, Florida’s new case load more than tripled yet again.
Hospital admissions jumped 62% during the most recent week compared to the previous week, with 2,669 new COVID-19 admissions in the seven days through Sunday.
“We cannot continue to burden Floridians with unnecessarily long lines and frustration, and risk the health and lives of our most vulnerable citizens, due to inaction and political ideology,” Fried wrote.