Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, it seems, isn’t going to be locking down his state again no matter what happens with the coronavirus.
During a Monday visit to the University of Florida Health The Villages Hospital in central Florida, the Republican governor noted that “the number of COVID positive patients that are currently hospitalized is down nearly 60 percent statewide from our July peak,” according to WPTV.
Joining DeSantis on the visit was Dr. Scott Atlas, who serves as a health adviser to President Donald Trump on the coronavirus.
“We will never do any of these lockdowns again, and I hear people say they’ll shut down the country, and honestly, I cringe,” DeSantis said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: “We will NEVER do any of these lockdowns again.” pic.twitter.com/YxJh2nxiV3
— The Hill (@thehill) August 31, 2020
“The most draconian lockdown in the world has been Peru — military-enforced since March. They have the highest per capita mortality in the world from COVID.
“And at best, what a lockdown will do is delay. It does not reduce the ultimate mortality,” he continued.
“It creates a lot of other problems with mortality that a lot of people don’t necessarily focus on.”
In terms of those problems, it’s easy to see what they are. NPR reported last month that drug overdoses have risen by 18 percent during the pandemic, according to data from the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program at the University of Baltimore; overdose deaths are up as well.
People are delaying necessary tests, with data from the Epic Health Research Network showing screening appointments for three types of cancer were down between 86 percent and 94 percent in March 2020 “as compared to mean volumes over January 1, 2017 through January 19, 2020.” Breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings were down 94 percent, while colon cancer screenings were down 86 percent.
As for the part about “I hear people say they’ll shut down the country, and honestly, I cringe” — well, it’s pretty easy to figure out who he was talking about there.
In his first joint interview with running mate Kamala Harris, Joe Biden was asked by ABC’s David Muir what he would do if there were scientists telling him to institute a total lockdown because of the coronavirus.
“I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists,” the former vice president said.
“I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives, because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus,” Biden said. “That is the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with.”
“I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists.”
Joe Biden tells @DavidMuir in an exclusive interview that as president, he would shut the country down to stop the spread of COVID-19 if the move was recommended by scientists. https://t.co/2A9r07d7EC pic.twitter.com/Ib99cshlSI
— ABC News (@ABC) August 21, 2020
There are several fundamental flaws in that thinking, of course.
The kind of people who coo whenever a politician talks about “listen[ing] to the scientists” in just the right tone of voice don’t realize scientists are only one part of the equation.
Can scientists solve despair? Drug overdoses? Depression?
That’s not their concern; epidemiologists supposed to stop epidemics, not worry about the cultural and economic externalities stopping them would cause.
In suggesting he’d simply lock down the country — despite all the issues this would cause — Biden showed he has little idea what he would be signing the country up for, nor does he care.
DeSantis’ Florida, meanwhile, is continuing the reopening process just weeks after the media was apoplectic about DeSantis’ handling of a rash of COVID-19 cases in the state, calling it the new locus of the virus and bashing the governor for taking a stand for liberty instead of refusing to go full Andrew Cuomo.
And yet, Gov. Cuomo’s New York had a coronavirus death rate of 1,698 per 1 million members of the total population as of Wednesday, as per Worldometer. That was the second-worst in the nation.
Florida, meanwhile, had a coronavirus death rate of 536 per million, 16th worst. For a heavily populated state with a disproportionately high number of older residents, that’s actually quite an achievement.
On Monday, WPTV reported, the number of new cases in Florida “dropped below 2,000, the lowest number since June 14.”
According to The Associated Press, DeSantis is looking to bring three south Florida counties — Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade — into Phase 2 of the reopening program.
“Everything’s open except the nightclubs and the pubs, and that’s something we’re going to address,” DeSantis said Monday. “We’re going to work on our three southern Florida counties, getting them where we are. And that’s really the last piece of the puzzle.”
The media’s treatment of DeSantis’ handling of the virus has been, as the governor himself has said, a “partisan narrative.”
The narrative ought to be that this is how America reopens.
There may be speed bumps, but we can’t look back.
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