Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the national news media and pointed to coronavirus statistics in Duval County that showed the opposite of what some outraged outlets said would happen after the county opened its beaches for recreational use.
In mid-April, mainstream media outlets reported on reopened beaches in Jacksonville, which is part of Duval County, saying that there would be more cases of coronavirus in the area because of the decision from the local government with the governor’s blessing.
“This for some reason drew the attention of a lot of folks in the national media, they were saying this was a really bad thing,” DeSantis said at a news conference Monday.
“Of course, you look at the photo that was used like, ‘Get that lens right in that area, so it looks like there’s so many people crowded out there.'”
The Republican governor added, “You had a lot of negative things said about the people of northeast Florida on the internet and in some of these articles.”
The Washington Post reported that the hashtag “FloridaMorons” was trending on Twitter as people had flocked to the beaches and were “closer than six feet apart.”
“The thought was, ‘OK, things are going to be so bad there, they’re not social distancing, this is gonna cause problems,'” DeSantis said.
He said the local media got the facts right and reported on the misleading pictures to bring some “much-needed perspective to this.”
“We are now 17 days later, and I think we should ask, what has happened?” DeSantis said.
Using data from Floriday’s AHCA Emergency Status System, the governor showed that hospitalizations in Duval were down 28 percent from April 16 to Sunday.
Intensive Care Unit hospitalizations and ventilator use in the county were also down 50 percent and 32 percent, respectively, during that same time period.
The coronavirus new case positivity rate in Duval Country was over 5 percent on only one day during that period and has most recently been around 2 percent.
In a tweet Monday, the governor said “out-of-state media had a spasm” over the beach openings and the numbers showed that this was a “drive-by smear against Floridians.”
In mid-April, out-of-state media had a spasm because Duval County opened its beaches for recreational use.
Now 17 days later, have the fears of this drive-by smear against Floridians been realized?https://t.co/UcXSUk2xcw
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 4, 2020
“Those people were wrong, and the folks of Duval County behaved appropriately,” DeSantis said.
“I think apologies can be sent to city of Jacksonville, attention Mayor [Lenny] Curry. You may want to CC the mayors of Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach, but I won’t hold my breath on that happening,” he said.
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