Scott Rivkees blasts ‘preventable deaths’ under Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 policy
Scott Rivkees is speaking out.

'It breaks my heart thinking that things could have turned out differently....'

Former Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees is finally having his say about the state’s pandemic response.

During an interview with the New York Times, Rivkees retroactively spoke out about concerns he had with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who became a vaccine skeptic as the pandemic wore on, a move that Rivkees claims came with personal costs.

“These were preventable deaths,” Dr. Rivkees told the Times. “It breaks my heart thinking that things could have turned out differently if people embraced vaccines instead of this anti-vax stuff.”

Rivkees also spoke out to federal officials, the Times notes, including Dr. Deborah Birx about DeSantis’ adviser Scott Atlas and what Rivkees called Atlas’ “let-’er-rip philosophy” regarding COVID-19 mitigation.

The former Surgeon General was effectively sidelined for months in his role, having been removed from a pandemic roundtable with the Governor just weeks into the state response, but serving for more than a year afterwards without much in the way of microphone time after saying at a year of social distancing may be required given the unknowns about the pandemic.

“We don’t have a vaccine at the present time, so our mitigation measure is the social distancing, six feet away from each other,” Rivkees said in April 2020. “As long as we are going to have COVID in the environment, and it is a tough virus, we are going to have to practice these measures so that we are all protected.”

As Rivkees was out of the public eye, Division of Emergency Management Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth Scheppke frequently appeared with DeSantis during pandemic events.

The DeSantis administration had nothing but kind words for Rivkees when his departure was reported in August 2021

“We thank Dr. Rivkees for his meaningful work during the most challenging pandemic of our lifetime. We appreciate his service to the people of Florida and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw said in a statement.

We have reached out to the DeSantis administration for comment on Rivkees’ assertions that the state’s approach to COVID-19 led to “preventable deaths.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida had the lowest per-capita death rate of any state in the Southeast. States outside the region, however, proved better able to mitigate mortality.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Thomas Kaspar

    July 22, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    Why did Dr. Rivkees advocate worthless mask that do not and never did stop Covid .

    • PeterH

      July 22, 2023 at 1:19 pm

      Did you read your fake news about masks on RED STATE?

      • Jay Smif

        July 22, 2023 at 1:43 pm

        Old Tommy is clearly more of a Breitbart or Gateway Pundit man – only the worst of conservative propaganda for him, you see.

    • TJC

      July 22, 2023 at 1:44 pm

      Next time you have surgery, you must insist that no attending doctors or nurses wear masks. What could possibly go wrong.

      • Paul Anderson

        July 22, 2023 at 11:37 pm

        Sums it up for Mr. Kaspar – right there. Thank you.

      • Lisa G is

        July 23, 2023 at 1:19 am

        Amen to that!

      • Marty Johnson

        July 23, 2023 at 8:29 am

        Those masks aren’t to protect the physician from giving the patient Covid, fool. ALL the science says that the masks did not prevent the spread of Covid. But we know, you believe in 3700 different genders, and that leaving dead trees on the ground, and “global warming” but mostly leaving dead trees on the ground causes wild fires.

    • Tjb

      July 23, 2023 at 9:00 am

      Read the article. The doctor is advocating vaccines, Social distancing was advised when the nuances and possible negative effects of Covid was still unknown.

  • PeterH

    July 22, 2023 at 1:17 pm

    Facts first:
    There was never a “lock down” anywhere in the USA. Individuals were ALWAYS free to take a walk, ride a bike, take the kids out for a drive, take grandma to the drugstore to get her meds!

    RESULTING from DeSantis’s liberating nonsense and anti mask voodoo instructions followed by anti vaccine mantra ….. per capita, Florida experienced MORE COVID DEATHS than California!

  • Silly Wabbit

    July 22, 2023 at 1:42 pm

    You kwazy.

  • Rondi

    July 23, 2023 at 12:45 am

    We need to be free to wear masks for many reasons: pollen allergies, smoke allergies, a contagious illness, bad air quality – especially for daily drivers of freeways. It is a healthy habit. I keep one handy for my commute. Grass fires can be bad.

  • Tjb

    July 23, 2023 at 8:56 am

    “ Florida had the lowest per-capita death rate of any state in the Southeast” is another way to say Florida is the lead dog of an ugly pack. It is my understanding that Florida had the 14th worst death rate on a per-capita basis.

  • MH/Duuuval

    July 23, 2023 at 12:17 pm

    Floridians died at a higher rate, adjusted for age, than residents of almost any other state during the Delta wave, according to the Times analysis. With less than 7 percent of the nation’s population, Florida accounted for 14 percent of deaths between the start of July and the end of October.
    Of the 23,000 Floridians who died, 9,000 were younger than 65. Despite the governor’s insistence at the time that “our entire vulnerable population has basically been vaccinated,” a vast majority of the 23,000 were either unvaccinated or had not yet completed the two-dose regimen.

Comments are closed.


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