“Florida got it right and the lockdown states got it wrong,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a leading Republican Party figure in charge of kicking off CPAC’s annual conference.
DeSantis began his speech as he has done in recent public rallies: highlighting the freedom that exists in his state and telling everyone that they are welcome in his state.
“For those of you who are not from Florida, welcome to our oasis of freedom!” he exclaimed in his speech.
The governor compared the freedom he offers in his state to the restrictive and confining measures of states with Democratic authorities. He lamented “the yoke of oppressive lockdowns” and that in other states schools and businesses are kept closed as measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“While so many governors over the last year have continued to lock people out, Florida encouraged people (…) Florida got it right and the lockdown states got it wrong,” he said.
More than 1.8 million people have contracted the virus in Florida and more than 30,000 have died. But those numbers represent better per capita figures than the United States as a whole.
DeSantis said opening Florida earlier than most states has better positioned it for economic recovery. The state, is one of the few that saw restaurant jobs increase, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Along those lines, the unemployment rate also fell far more than states with tighter lockdowns, such as California, Illinois and New York.
DeSantis did not close schools or restaurants
DeSantis rejected the support that the teachers’ unions have received from the Democratic Party, who have expressed their disagreement with the reopening of schools.
“These children have been out of school for almost a year, so if they follow the new CDC recommendations, they will not return this school year or in the fall,” said the Florida governor.
Florida’s top authority also said that parents can decide whether or not their children go to face-to-face classes, or stay with virtual learning.
“Those who insist on keeping school doors closed are ignoring the evidence and putting special interests before the best interests of children and families,” he said.
With restaurants, DeSantis maintains the same position; he pledged to keep the state’s economy alive and announced that restaurants will remain fully open.
He reported that, according to studies, COVID-19 extends into homes where family gatherings are held, with only 1.4% of cases were traced to bars and restaurants.
“Closing a restaurant for indoor dining is going to drive more people to do it in private homes anyway,” he added.
DeSantis has left it up to his citizens to decide how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic without hurting Florida’s economy. In September, when he issued an executive order, he argued that people should “avoid trying to penalize people for not distancing themselves socially and working with people constructively.”
The governor said he would never again carry out any of the business closures and lifted major restrictions in the state, in addition to suspending fines for violating local protocols on wearing masks.
“As an act of grace from the Executive, all outstanding fines and penalties that have been levied against individuals have been suspended,” DeSantis announced in September.
Florida has better stats than California
A Fox News report revealed that, despite addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in very different ways, California and Florida have experienced similar trends with the number of coronavirus cases.
While California is closing businesses, schools and restaurants; Florida is staying open without affecting the number of jobs. Despite this, pandemic trends are going similarly.
The latest data from Johns Hopkins University shows that California has reported nearly 3.5 million total COVID-19 cases, while Florida has reported more than 1.82 million.
Florida’s population is slightly more than half that of California. But even with that difference considered, both states have reported similar percentages of cases and deaths compared to the general population.
California’s total number of COVID-19 cases as a percentage of the population is about 8.8%, while Florida’s is about 8.3%. Of all the people in California who have contracted COVID-19, approximately 1.35% have died, while in Florida, the figure is approximately 1.57%, according to Johns Hopkins University.