The conservatives who run Florida’s government have never taken this pandemic seriously. They closed the state far too late and reopened it far too soon. COVID-19 cases have now exploded. Florida, along with Arizona, leads not just the U.S., but the entire world in new cases. Over 40 Florida hospitals have already maxed out ICU capacity, and we are nowhere near the peak. On July 12, the Sunshine State shattered the U.S. single-day record, logging 15,300 new COVID-19 cases.
We are nowhere near done, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has done everything he can to make the situation worse. He fired the state’s chief data scientist tracking the virus for “insubordination.” She claims she was ordered to change the numbers to make them look better. DeSantis also lied about testing, purposefully undercounted the number of ICU beds, and then went back to his racist roots, trying to blame “overwhelmingly Hispanic” farmworkers for the virus. He refuses to issue a mask order, and refuses to even consider rolling back the state’s premature reopening. Worst of all, DeSantis is forcing all Florida students to go back to school in two weeks. Teachers won’t have to wear masks, and he vetoed the entire budget for online learning to force parents to send their children to our woefully unprepared schools. It’s going to get a lot worse.
Our family made a promise to each other early on in the pandemic as states that weren’t Florida began to lock down: We wouldn’t get sick. Our shared vow didn’t just apply to the coronavirus; we vowed to avoid any illness or injury because we all knew that getting good care and treatment during a public health crisis, particularly in Florida, would be difficult.
Unfortunately, I broke that rule.