Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and network hosts at MSNBC are asking where Gov. Ron DeSantis is during the omicron COVID-19 surge.
With long virus testing lines across the state and record-breaking levels of new cases over the last two weeks, Democrats and left-wing media are calling on the Republican Governor to confront the pandemic.
The last time DeSantis held a news conference was on Dec. 17, the Friday before the week of Christmas. The Governor has not made a public appearance since, outside of a Fox News spot.
In that time, Florida has gone from a state with some of the least community spread to one the worst.
Both Fried, one of three Democrats running to unseat DeSantis in 2022, and MSNBC host Tiffany Cross declared DeSantis M.I.A. — missing in action — over the last week and a half.
“I don’t know where he is,” Fried said, “But quite honest, even if he was here, he wouldn’t be doing anything anyhow, and we know that.”
Officials confirmed 46,923 new cases in Florida in the last day, a record one-day high for the state, and 206,358 new cases in the last week. Only New Jersey and New York, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have more COVID-19 cases per capita than Florida in the last week, per U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data updated Wednesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, Fried sent a letter to DeSantis asking him to ramp up the state’s response to the latest surge in Florida’s COVID-19 cases. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings also went public that day, blasting DeSantis for not doing more to address the new surge.
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.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, a DeSantis appointee, on Tuesday sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra accusing President Joe Biden’s administration of standing in the way of efficiently deploying one COVID-19 treatment, monoclonal antibody therapy.
Fried is asking DeSantis to make testing more accessible and to make a push for more booster shots in nursing homes.
Fried received her booster shot publicly on Wednesday. By comparison, DeSantis on Dec. 19 told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo that he has only received the “normal shot”, presumably just one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Booster shots limit the severity of COVID-19 infections, preventing hospitalization and death in most cases.
“I got my vaccine, my booster shot today,” Fried said. “I did it in public to show this is what a leader is supposed to do, lead by example, and telling the people of our state, thank you.”
DeSantis’ response to Bartiromo’s question displayed a lack of leadership, she continued, accusing the Governor of dancing around the question.
Polls show DeSantis leading all Democratic candidates in the gubernatorial race with Election Day less than a year away. But Fried reminded viewers that DeSantis beat the 2018 Democratic nominee, Andrew Gillum, by less than half a percentage point.
“That is really the question that people should be asking every single day and especially at the ballot box in 2022,” Fried said. “Who do you want to be as your next Governor? Do you want somebody who’s going to dance around the issues, put your personal safety at risk, or somebody who is going to have the booster, have it in public, be out there every day, encouraging people to take the safety measures, get the vaccine, listen to CDC and make sure that you’re protecting your loved ones and your community members?”