The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, was one of the most criticized authorities in the United States for his management of the pandemic. However, one year later, the COVID-19 figures speak for themselves and reveal that the Republican was right: closing businesses, schools and locking down people would not block the spread of the virus.
While New York’s controversial governor, Andrew Cuomo, was praised for the mass lockdowns and his press conferences, De Santis was criticized to the point of being labeled as the one responsible for taking his state “to the morgue.”
But in the end the opposite happened, New York ended up with serious figures due to the measures taken by the governor, such as the deaths of the elderly in nursing homes, while Florida on the contrary, shows that the mortality rate among the elderly is 20% lower than California’s and 50% lower than New York’s, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus-positive seniors, DeSantis halted outside visits to nursing homes and beefed up stockpiles of personal protective equipment. Also, instead of sending seniors to care homes, the Florida government established 23 dedicated Covid nursing facilities for elderly patients discharged from hospitals.
A Wall Street Journal article chronologically details how DeSantis progressively opened up the state’s economy despite criticism and political pressure. The article highlights how the Florida governor managed to make his state one of the least hard hit by the pandemic.
“Mr. DeSantis says he listened to a diverse cast of experts, including Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya, Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff and Oxford’s Carl Heneghan and Sunetra Gupta. Instead of shutting down businesses in the summer, he ordered more frequent testing of nursing home workers and deployed more staff to the hardest-hit hospitals. By the end of July, cases in Florida and across the Sun Belt began to decline,” the WSJ notes.
The newspaper recalls that Florida, where businesses were able to remain open and at full capacity, came to have only 5 cases of contagion per 100 population; while New York had 5.8 and California had 6.4.
“Employment was down 4.6% in Florida in 2020, compared to 8% in California and 10.4% in New York. Leisure and hospitality jobs fell 15% in Florida, compared with 30% in California and 39% in New York,” says the WSJ.
DeSantis: ‘Florida got it right’
And now the Florida governor can smile because the numbers prove him right. “Florida got it right, and the states that locked up got it wrong,” DeSantis said at CPAC’s annual conference.
“While so many governors over the last year have continued to lock people in, Florida encouraged people (…) Florida got it right and the lockout 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.
Along those lines, the unemployment rate also fell far more than states with tighter closures, such as California, Illinois and New York.
DeSantis 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 said to “avoid trying to penalize people for not distancing themselves socially and working with people in a constructive way.
Similarly, 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 the use of 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 of last year.
According to figures and data presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states led by Republican governors are leading the nation’s economic recovery. In fact, it shows that South Dakota, for example, led by a Republican governor, has an unemployment rate of 3.3 points, while California is the worst of the states with 9.3 points.
For its part, Florida, of Republican Governor DeSantis, has an unemployment rate of 5.1 points, while Andrew Cuomo’s New York has an unemployment rate of 8.7 points. Thus, from official figures it is evident how the radical confinements imposed by Democratic leaders have hit the economy of their states the hardest of all.