Jerry Demings slams Ron DeSantis for response to new COVID-19 surge
Ron DeSantis and Jerry Demings.

FLAPOL030121CH02
'Our residents — all Florida residents — should be outraged. ... Where is Ron DeSantis?'

Faced with a record day of COVID-19 cases, five-hour waits at mass testing sites and growing public worry, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis for not doing more to address the new surge of COVID-19.

Demings said there are shortages of tests, too few state-supported testing sites and a lack of leadership at the state level as his county and other local governments around the state are “being overwhelmed” trying to respond. He also blasted DeSantis for taking away local government ability to make COVID-19 policies.

“Our residents — all Florida residents — should be outraged. They should ask the question: Now, where is our state? Where is our Governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?” Demings said. “When was the last time you saw the Governor do a press briefing regarding COVID-19?”

The Governor’s Office responded by accusing Demings of “theater” and noting that New York — which has strict mask mandates and permits local vaccination mandates — has more cases than Florida. As of the most recent CDC data, though, New York is the only state with more cases than Florida.

Statewide, Florida has seen an explosion of new COVID-19 cases, with more than 169,000 new cases confirmed in the seven days through Sunday. That is the most ever for a single week in the Sunshine State.

Demings made his comments as he and Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County’s health officer from the Florida Department of Health, briefed media on how quickly the latest COVID-19 outbreak has hit.

“Local governments have been left to figure it out and respond on our own. We are doing the best that we can do to take care of our residents during this surge, just as we have been doing throughout this pandemic,” Demings said.

“The numbers are staggering today,” Demings said.

On Monday, Orange County confirmed more than 2,500 new cases, the most ever for a single day, Pino said. The day before, there were more than 1,600 new cases, he said.

The county’s rolling, 14-day average for the share of positive test results hit 14.6%, compared to a rate of 3.8% just two weeks ago.

Orange County opened a second mass testing site on Monday and both sites now are overwhelmed. A third site will be opened later this week.

Pino said Orange County could open five sites and they all would have two-hour waits.

Both Demings and Pino offered encouraging news, noting that hospitals are not being swamped with admissions as they were in past surges. Demings said that’s due in part to the milder symptoms caused by the omicron variant and in part because so many people have been vaccinated, with 74% of eligible residents having received at least one dose.

Demings urged people to get vaccinated and to get tested. Pino pushed people who experience symptoms to self-isolate until tests can show they do not have COVID-19.

Demings also encouraged people to wear masks, wash hands frequently and social distance.

He said Central Florida employers are seeing worker shortages. Demings insisted Orange County is in better position now, however, because of vaccinations.

“Unfortunately, we see the politicization of the virus, the pandemic, that has resulted in less than an efficient way to respond to the pandemic,” Demings said. “So here we are trying to do the best we can today under a difficult environment.”

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]


18 comments

  • tom palmer

    December 28, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    New York has more people. Duh!

    • Orlando resident

      December 28, 2021 at 10:07 pm

      Actually, it doesn’t. Florida is #3 and New York is #4 in terms of population.

    • Rob S

      December 29, 2021 at 12:47 am

      No it doesn’t dumbass. Florida has 2 million more people. You have an education ?

    • Elizabeth Sellers

      January 4, 2022 at 1:32 pm

      Actually, no, it doesn’t anymore. Florida does.

  • JR

    December 28, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    Hey Jerry, how about you blame Clueless Joe? He admitted his administration dropped the ball. Totally unaware that omicron would spread so fast and totally unprepared to have tests available. And why don’t you demand more therapeutics? Oh, that’s right, doesn’t fit the liberal narrative. Instead of pointing fingers, how about looking in the mirror?

  • Bud O'Neill

    December 28, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Maybe Jerry can answer why Joe Biden allowed Midnights Flights that weren’t on the books of illegals immigrants to enter Jacksonville and none of them had any kind of vaccinations ever. He’s just pandering for votes for him and his wife

  • Rob S

    December 29, 2021 at 12:50 am

    Hey Scott.

    You are a biased hack. Don’t you think it is a relevant fact and conflict of interest that Jerry Demings is the cuckhold Ed husband of Democrat running for everything and she was a candidate for Bidens VP. No disclaimer?

    If it was a trump confident it would be in the headline. This is political hot job by this so called journalist and a failed democrat. Scott. You getting paid by Demings?

  • Margi Lynn

    December 29, 2021 at 3:18 am

    THIS IS ONE DAY AFTER BIDEN PASSES THE BUCK TO THE STATES ON COVID, AND DEMINGS IS ACTING LIKE A LEMMING. FIRST OFF, CALL THE GOV AND HE’LL ADDRESS THE PROBLEM. NO NEED FOR THE POLITICAL SCREAMING LIKE A CHILD. SECONDLY, ASK BIDEN WHY HE FORGOT TO ORDER THE W/E BILLION OF TESTS SO THE STATES MIGHT HAVE THEM. FOOLS! BIDEN DID THIS ON PURPOSE, AND DEMINGS IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF THE FOLLOW UP THE STATES WILL RECEIVE, AND BE BLAMED FOR. TESTING IS RIDICULOUS ON THE OMICRON ANYWAY. IF YOU ARE SICK, THEN GO GET A TEST, RANDOM TESTING IS WORTHLESS AND UNNECESSARY. IF YOU HAVE THE SNIFFLES, COUGH, AND SORE THROAT, STAY THE HELL HOME. YOU HAVE A COLD OR MAYBE EVEN THE FLU. YEP, WE STILL HAVE FLU.

  • Tom

    December 29, 2021 at 5:14 am

    Demings, part of the tweedle dee and tweedle Dum family. Cheap shot Jerry, classic dummycrat.

    America’s Gov the best!
    DeSantis re elect in Nov 22.
    Tallahassee Govs mansion to WH.

  • Phil Morton

    December 29, 2021 at 5:39 am

    He ain’t wrong. DeSantis has been missing in action for most of the pandemic, except when he’s touting some treatment for after you’re sick and cost thousands of dollars.

  • Ron sucks

    December 29, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Dumbsantis is to blame. He kept our fucking state open as cases soared. He’s a Trumpster thru and thru.

  • Jacqueline spratt

    December 29, 2021 at 7:26 am

    Yes, New York has more people, however we have the benefit of opening our windows and sitting/visiting outside.Florida would likely be in far worse shape than New York if our temperatures were in the 30’s and we had to be sealed up indoors.

  • Tom

    December 29, 2021 at 7:33 am

    Phil and Ron, go Scratch.
    You both are full of cow manure.
    Florida/DeSantis led seniors vaccinations per Biden’s HHS. Florida/DeSantis led on monoclonals renegeron.
    Biden and his incompetents blew it with no new testing kits ordered in Oct.
    Biden and incompetents didn’t know and want to share monoclonals.
    Schools open, Jobs and economic growth, Education scholarship reform. The list is on going. Gov. Ron, America’s Governor the best!
    Re elect November 22. Tallahassee to DC, W H. In 24.

  • Mar6

    December 29, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    [email protected] Governor DeSantis is the best Governor in all the USA. Jerry, you must have a comprehension problem or you are an idiot wrapped 🙄 in moron.

  • Ron Ogden

    December 29, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Is this Demings part of Schorsch’s “happy politics” movement he is saying he is committed to bringing to Florida? Don’t sound like it, does it?

    • Tom

      December 30, 2021 at 9:53 pm

      America’s Governor mar6, no contest!
      Nov 22 re elect, Tallahassee to W H.

  • Tom

    December 30, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Hey mar6, who gets your vote? Cuomo? Whitmer? Blue state tyrants?

    Ron, Peter’s happy politics. When ex Govs Chiles, Graham and Nelson would meet with the reporters and throw back Gin & tonics.
    Happy days.

  • scott

    January 7, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    maybe the democrat mayor need a family member to get cancer to see where his priorities lie

Comments are closed.


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