Florida, on Thursday set a new one day record for most confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide – 1,698 new cases were diagnosed, a total which spiked the already high seven day average to new heights. Florida is averaging more new cases per day than it did at the previous height of transmissions in early April (see chart below). It is encouraging that hospitalizations are lower than at the previous peak of cases but that metric might catch up with the overall case load soon a medical expert warned me, earlier this week.
As we discussed earlier this week, Florida’s rise in cases is due to controllable factors that have been largely ignored.
The level of anti-intellectualism and cognitive dissonance in this state is alarming and no doubt of no surprise to most of our readers. Without the Florida of Rick Scott, this writer maintains the political career of Donald Trump would not have taken off the way it has. So it’s natural Florida Republicans, at least those not tied to the Bush era would embrace the MAGA world view of Coronavirus. But it seems the problem in Florida is going beyond even just that segment of the population.
As Florida battles through the COVID-19 pandemic, having reached a nadir this week with the highest seven-day average of new daily cases since the crises began, the state’s citizens are divided. Many who support the President have made reopening the economy and returning to “normalcy” a cause, and have adopted a mantra that shutdowns are worse than the actual disease – an illogical narrative that essentially reaffirms the selfish-nature of MAGA politics. Others stress public heath considerations but all too often avoid confrontation or are deliberately silenced by intimidation.
Preventing the wearing of a mask in public or in a workplace has become the latest crusade of Trump supporters (let me note here what I said on Twitter earlier in the week – I will no longer refer to Trump or his supporters as conservatives because 1) they aren’t 2) that is an insult to true movement conservatives whom I fundamentally disagree with on a number of issues, but have always had great respect for through the years.) and throughout Florida, the President’s adopted home state MAGA-types are getting increasingly aggressive about this.
We detail three examples provided to us below (names have been omitted to protect the victims):
1) Last week, Hillsborough County, an urban center that voted against protecting residents from workplace discrimination if they choose to wear a mask.
We’ve learned this has caused lots of problems for health conscious residents. One employer required employees to go back to work on Friday, June 5.
This was for the first time in weeks employees had to go into the office because the safer at home order had expired in the City of Tampa. Phase 2 of the Florida’s reopening went into effect in 64 of 67 counties including Hillsborough on June 5, the day this employee was required to return to the office.
It should be noted in his own guidelines for offices, Governor Ron DeSantis did not seek workers who could do their jobs from home, to return to the office until Phase 3, but local authorities, including some areas run by Democrats have largely ignored these guidelines.
One employee at this office was one of the only one to wear a mask. The office supervisor wanted the office staff to go out to a bar after hours.
This employee said no, that they needed to come home. The rest of the employees went out. The weekend passed and then Monday, first thing in the morning the boss called a big staff meeting where he spent hours railing against all the “liberal pussies in their masks with their virus hoax trying to bring down our president.”
The boss, we are told said “liberal pussies” several times while everyone looked at the employee mentioned above, who by this time was the only person in the office wearing a mask. After a few hours, this employee got up and quit the job, unnerved by the intimidation and social stigma attached with trying to protect the health of not only themselves but everyone in the office around them.
For examples two and three, let’s look at Palm Beach County, where the rate of increased confirmed COVID-19 cases the last ten days has been alarming.
2) We have learned of an incident in Palm Beach County where a man had a switch-blade knife pulled on him for complaining that another patron of a restaurant wasn’t wearing a mask.
The restaurant owner sided with the patron not wearing a mask.
Palm Beach County, which is run entirely by Democrats and has no countywide face coverings ordinance in place has seen an incredible spike in cases. In fact, Governor DeSantis himself called out Palm Beach County for it, this week but choose to do nothing legally regarding it, which is par for the course during this entire epidemic. DeSantis tends to sound the right note publicly sounding un-MAGA-like while empowering the fringe elements which associate with MAGA causes (like Rep. Anthony Sabatini of Lake County) to really set the agenda.
3) We’ve been made aware of an incident in Palm Beach Gardens where someone was picking up takeout, right after Palm Beach County went into Phase 1 reopening. The restaurant was packed with patrons not observing social distancing guidelines at the bar. Few patrons were wearing masks.
A probably drunk patron began to give the person wearing a mask a hard time. The drunk patron asked, “what are you afraid of?” He was ignored but then more loud possible or probable drunks approached the customer wearing a mask seeking to intimidate.
The other possibly drunk patrons began asked questions like “why are you scared,” and “what’s the matter with you?” Those intimidating the mask-wearer demanded the mask being worn be taken off.
After a few more tense interactions, the mask-wearing individual revealed he’s worked in healthcare for more than 30 years, and said appropriately ” it’s people like you that keep me in business.”
Without question in this state, there are countless more examples of intimidation, workplace discrimination and general disdain for those who are not only trying to protect the public health of their family and friends but of society in general.
This week both MLS and the NBA revealed plans to resume their aborted seasons behind closed doors – playing all matches in Florida! This is being done because restrictions about group gatherings of more than 10 people (a soccer game needs about 60-75 people at a minimum on site to operate, a Basketball game a few less but still more than 10) remain in place throughout many of the states where professional soccer and basketball teams play.
Meanwhile, it is being reported that the Republican National Convention will be moved from Charlotte to Jacksonville, given North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper a Democrat has quite prudently felt a gathering of thousands of outsiders might threaten his state’s health situation. Unfortunately, here in Florida no such ethic exists.
Floridians of all stripes who care about public health and are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and the discrimination those trying to protect the public face need to make their voices heard to public officials in this state. At the rate the virus’ spread is increasing, we are running out of time to turn the tide in the Sunshine State.