On Thursday, Governor DeSantis said nothing as Florida officially crossed a dubious threshold – 50,000 deaths due to COVID-19. The dubious mark puts Florida near the very top of COVID death statistics especially for 2021. More than 12,000 Floridians have died in the most recent wave of the virus which began about eight weeks ago.
This past week, Florida had a COVID death rate of 1.52 per 100K people, the highest in the U.S. In August we saw Florida’s highest one-month COVID death toll since the pandemic began.
For all the policy criticisms I give of Governor DeSantis, my biggest critique is the public lack of compassion or acknowledgement he gives for the crisis. After appearing on sure footing in March and April of 2020, which included avoiding the type of clownish demagoguery coming from others in his party, DeSantis has for the last 15 months been a completely distant figure lacking the sort of empathy we deserve from our leaders, as Florida’s death toll from COVID-19 approaches the gaudy numbers of Americans who died in the Korean War.
I find it hard to believe even given my substantive policy differences with both Jeb Bush and Rick Scott that either would shown such little compassion. I seriously doubt Bush or Scott would exhibit such outwardly crass behavior if either were still Governor. Sure they’d have spun no doubt, but almost certainly would have done more to at least appear outwardly respectful of the dead. DeSantis appears wholly incapable of showing public compassion to the victims.
Florida is now on average losing more people to COVID-19 in any ten day period from mid-August to today than American servicemen who died in the entirety of the recently completed 20-year Afghan War (this does not include military contractors). In terms of reported September deaths, we have lost more Floridians for a second straight month than US servicemen who died in the eight-year Iraq War (2003-2011).
My biggest gripe with DeSantis is he and his ilk see THEMSELVES, not the dead as the actual victims of the pandemic. He and his acolytes see DeSantis as a victim of a media and democratic party conspiracy. The ability of DeSantis to spin using the right-wing media ecosystem has furthered this notion as inevitably the narrative revolves around a Governor trying to preserve “freedom” while being countered by a “deep state” conspiracy.
The bottom line for Floridians concerned about mitigating the continued spread of COVID to remember is this – DeSantis public persona indicates that he believes the true victim of the pandemic is in fact him and is more determined to call out those he believes are victimizing him than doing anything tangible to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.