Two Florida progressive policy groups released video on Thursday calling out Gov. Ron DeSantis for inadequately responding to the coronavirus crisis, and urging him to finally require most Floridians to wear face coverings or masks.
"Florida has become a global hotspot for COVID-19, with more than 200,000 cases and 3,400 dead, due to the failed leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis," said the video, which also shows DeSantis putting a mask on sideways during an April press conference.
The video, by Progress Florida and Florida Watch, slams DeSantis for "intentionally manipulating the state's data and misleading Floridians” on the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, and asks viewers to share and call DeSantis' state office number — 850-717-9337 — to demand a statewide protective mask requirement.
On the same day as the video's release, the state reported a record-high one-day increase of 120 deaths from COVID-19. With a total of 4,111 dead since March, and a rapidly rising number of cases that has reached 232,718 on Thursday, Florida has been called the world's epicenter for the coronavirus pandemic. The state's positivity rate from those taking tests is now 18.39 percent, also the highest on record.
The groups note that healthcare experts estimate the widespread wearing of masks would save approximately 8,000 Floridians' lives by October alone. Health say a nationwide mask order would save approximately 45,000 Americans' lives by November. President Donald Trump, like DeSantis, refuses to call for any such mandate.
Researchers in Canada and Lebanon who reviewed 172 studies from 16 different countries about various preventative measures found that masks were 85 percent effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19, along with other viruses like SARS and MERS.
"DeSantis is heeding this advice about as well as he is wearing a mask himself," says the video's narrator.
DeSantis' lack of enforcement on facial coverings reinforces a national political debate, which has split along party lines, with the demands of individuals who refuse to wear one pitted against the broader need to prevent disease and death until a relatively new virus is managed.
A Fort Myers man (wearing a "Running the world since 1776" T-shirt) refused requests to wear a mask inside a Lee County Costco, and was recorded screaming "I feel threatened" at other customers over the store's rule. His behavior got him fired later from his job at an insurance company.
DeSantis' stubborn refusal to issue a mask order, in the face of public health authorities and even despite state business groups questioning his thinking, could be because he's afraid of being yelled at — or voted out — by his most ignorant supporters.
A governor with more deaths on his hands than 9/11 may need the support of his base more than ever in 2022, but his refusal to require a simple preventative measure is yet another in a long series of deadly concessions.
If DeSantis won't heed the advice of health experts, maybe he'll listen to his rightfully concerned constituents, the ones demanding leadership, who call and yell at him instead._
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