The internet, social media, is in full throttle with calls for Gov. DeSantis to stop being anti-vax, anti-mandate, and for the Florida Department of Health to report COVID numbers daily, as opposed to weekly.
The Miami Herald’s Fabiola Santiago penned an opinion and tweet last week saying on Twitter, “DeSantis fueled culture war over masks, vaccine. So, of course, #Florida leads #COVID surge.”
In another tweet the Miami Herlad said, “New in Opinion from @fabiolasantiago: It’s no joke: Florida leads the nation in COVID-19 cases, and hospitalizations are surging to a horribly familiar crisis point. This is the no-mask, anti-vaccine Florida that Gov. Ron DeSantis groomed and enabled.”
The Governor’s office shot back Monday, “This is a totalitarian way of thinking, and it’s just dishonest to call Governor DeSantis anti-vax because he is against mandates,” said the Governor’s Press Secretary Christina Pushaw.
Governor DeSantis said, “Government mandates do not work to stop COVID-19. The empirical evidence from comparing outcomes from states with different policies supports his position on this.”
“There is no correlation between lockdowns and lower COVID-19 deaths, but lockdowns have serious consequences for public health as well as the economy. Proponents of restrictive policies and mandates often fail to discuss the trade-offs involved,” said DeSantis.
The vaccines are safe and effective for most people and are freely available everywhere in Florida.
“Governor DeSantis has mentioned the vaccines positively countless times in public remarks since November 2020,” said Pushaw, providing The Free Press with the numbers.
- The Governor had over 50 vaccine-specific events, appearing in 27 counties around the state
- He had over 100 tweets to highlight those efforts
- The efficacy and value of vaccines have been mentioned specifically at least 1,600+ times in over 100 different public appearances
“The Governor and Florida Department of Health have always encouraged Floridians to protect themselves and their communities,” said DeSantis’ office.
On on Friday, July 30 at a press conference, DeSantis said, “You know, for example, you, you have this situation that you saw it in Great Britain, and you saw it in Israel, you saw it in a place like Gibraltar where there’s 98% vaccination. You see these cases going up, same, same with the Sunbelt, Florida, Texas, all these other states.”
“You’re seeing that. And I think they’re not putting that in context of the fact that, you know, these vaccines while for, particularly for at-risk people protect against, I think pretty good protection against serious illness. Clearly, people are testing positive. I mean, it’s not preventing positive tests. And so you’re seeing that over and over again. At the end of the day, though, if you’re testing positive and you have a mild or an asymptomatic, that is, that’s not something that we should get spun up about, but I think it’s not presented in the right context,” said DeSantis.
On Monday, Florida’s Democratic Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried called on DeSantis and the Florida Department of Health to start reporting data daily and to isssue an emergency order.
“Governor, Department of Health what are you waiting for? It is time, Governor, to issue an emergency order. The people of our state need this information. We should be going back to daily recording. Can you imagine we live in the state of Florida, that we know a hurricane is coming, and we know that we have to evacuate but we don’t know where the evacuation zones are, we don’t know exactly the tracking of this hurricane, we don’t know the strength and severity of it, that we are left completely in the dark, that is exactly what is happening right now,” said Fried.
“We know how to beat this. We know how to get in front of this to slow down the spread I am pleading with Floridians who have not gotten the vaccine, go out today and get the vaccine,” Fried added.
The Governor’s Press Secretary, Christina Pushaw said in response to Fried’s press conference, “The entire premise of Fried’s COVID-19 briefings is based on misinformation that Fried has repeated since May 2020: That Florida’s COVID-19 data is somehow being intentionally “hidden” or “manipulated” by Governor DeSantis and/or the Florida Department of Health. This has always been patently false. In fact, the COVID data that Nikki Fried discussed is reported to the CDC by the Florida Department of Health every weekday.”
“The CDC updates state data, including for Florida, regularly: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/. Therefore, the state is in fact providing that data – where else would Fried have gotten it? The data is publicly available, though it’s not clear why Fried is presenting it with her own commentary” said Pushaw. “It is surprising and disappointing that a prominent elected official like Commissioner Fried would be spreading innuendo that unfairly undermines trust in Florida’s public health authorities during a pandemic,” said Pushaw.
In a statement to The Free Press, Weesam Khoury, the Communications Director at the Florida Department of Health said, “This is absolutely inaccurate and baseless. The Florida Department of Health routinely and automatically reports COVID-19 data Monday through Friday.”
“Public health surveillance and controlling the spread of infectious diseases have always been core functions of the Department. That has not changed,” said Khoury. “Effective June 18, 2021, CDC no longer requests weekend submission of data. These cumulative data are reported the following Monday. I recommend asking CDC for additional information regarding their data protocol and availability of information on their website.”
Fried is running for governor in 2022 against DeSantis, and in July said, “Ron DeSantis has Fox News, but we have everyone else. Florida will be blue in 2022.”
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