Governor Ron DeSantis took an early victory lap on his handling of the coronavirus in late April. He held a press conference in Tallahassee to announce his plan to reopen the state. He called it the “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” approach and declared that the state was in a good enough place to safely reopen its economy.
During his announcement, he said that fear was the state’s biggest obstacle to overcoming the impact of the virus and chided the media for pushing “doom and gloom” scenarios about the virus. It wasn’t a time of victory for DeSantis, but he did revel in knowing that the state had avoided all worst case situation predictions.
That was April, though. The state’s coronavirus numbers were trending down, hospitals were no longer overwhelmed, and many of the state’s residents were eager to not only get back to work, they were ready for normalcy.
That all changed recently when cases started to spike, and the state’s positivity rate jumped to double digit numbers. Hospitalizations increased, outbreaks at nursing homes and prisons happened, and more children started to contract the virus than before.
It was the worst of the governor’s nightmares, and some in the media were quick to point out how wrong he was to reopen the state and declare victory.
But has his response been as bad as what his critics say? It’s a mixed bag. DeSantis has areas where he can improve, like continuing to help residents who haven’t received an unemployment payment from the state, but he’s deployed help to areas that need it the most.
He’s attempted to expediate testing in some of the state’s hardest hit areas and has kept bars closed throughout the state to slow the spread of the virus.
Granted, DeSantis brought a lot the heat he’s receiving on himself. He did unfairly go after the media when things were good and brought a national political convention to the state while numbers were increasing. President Donald Trump decided to cancel the Republican National Convention out of an abundance of caution, but DeSantis gave the ok.
There is still a lot of work to do to help bring the state back to a good place, and while DeSantis deserves his fair share of criticism, it isn’t as bad as some say it is.