The COVID-19 crisis in Florida is growing worse by the day. Governor Ron DeSantis, whose apparent lack of empathy for COVID victims has become contagious among many Floridians still in denial about the seriousness of the situation cannot be counted on to do anything to safeguard public health at this point. The leadership vacuum created by DeSantis’ indifference to the pain and suffering of ordinary Floridians cannot stand in the way of doing the best we can to mitigate this growing humanitarian crisis.
This weekend, Florida set a new state record for COVID-related hospitalizations and recorded the highest 7-day average for new cases by any state since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020 (per CDC data). Florida’s 134,000 plus cases last week are the most for any week, in any state since the start of the pandemic (per CDC data).
Therefore, it’s time for Florida’s local elected officials in both parties to step up to the plate and lead. We’re seeing examples of strong local leadership from the likes of Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, Broward County Mayor Steve Geller, Miami-Dade Mayor Danielle Levine-Cava and Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna among others.
But more must be done. Local elected officials who have been hamstrung by Governor DeSantis’ overreaching authoritarian Executive Orders and legislative Preemption laws, should worry about the legal consequences later and worry here and now about how they can act as Chief Executives under our Federal Constitutional system to help ease the crisis.
Here is some of what we need:
- More local testing sites.
- More regular public information about positive cases, local hospital capacity, etc bypassing the state and even the CDC.
- More use of the bully pulpit. The Governor has abused his position to play national politics during a massive humanitarian crisis. We need PBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, etc consistently talking to our local elected officials and a common message of Florida’s dire situation being conveyed. This is being done to a large extent already but needs to be even more aggressive.
- Discussing with major employers and business leaders about the seriousness of the situation. Get business leaders to step forward and discuss the dire situation Florida is in and how it impacts their bottom line. Also if some will do this, a full airing of how vaccine passports and mask requirements help business.
- Contingencies for potential Tropical Weather being made now, in whatever manner is possible without state assistance.
- Local elected officials openly and regularly challenging the Governor’s tact on the crisis.
Any thoughts are welcome in the comments section.