Following his recent recovery from COVID-19, President Trump returned to the campaign trail in an effort to bolster his lagging reelection prospects. Florida is no exception to Trump falling behind, as his Democratic opponent, former Vice President, Joe Biden is currently leading by a small margin according to recent polls.
When attending the rally held at the Orlando Sanford International Airport on Oct. 12, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was seen giving high fives to the tightly packed crowd of supporters without wearing a mask. Many of the supporters were also not wearing a mask. Directly after interacting with the crowd, DeSantis was photographed touching his face while still surrounded by the attendees.
These arguably reckless actions contradict his own personal statements from earlier this year wherein DeSantis stated that masks are beneficial in regard to reducing the transmission of COVID-19 “when you can’t socially distance and keep that six feet.”
Not only have DeSantis’s actions made national headlines, but the Florida governor’s interaction with the crowd has resulted in an outpouring of criticism from a number of local health officials. Many of these officials argue that this blatant disregard is unacceptable for the governor in a health crisis, particularly the governor of a state still struggling to keep its infection rate relatively low.
The CDC continues to recommend mask usage for everyone when in public settings such as events, large gatherings, and when using mass and public transportation. The CDC also recommends not to shake hands or promote close contact, instead suggesting verbal greetings.
These recommendations are what make large rallies, such as the one DeSantis attended in Orlando, so concerning. With close to none of the CDC’s regulations in place, Trump’s rallies and other campaign events could become major spreading events, similar to the event where a number of Trump’s aides and attendees supposedly contracted the virus earlier this month.
Overall, these rallies constitute a further example of the president’s frequent disagreement with the strict health guidelines set by the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. A spike in COVID-19 cases has swept across the country in recent weeks. Florida has been hit with 778,628 cases since the start of the pandemic this March, and 23,770 cases in the last week alone according to the New York Times.
This recent increase in Florida case totals comes soon after DeSantis took action to reopen the economy.
Starting Sept. 25, DeSantis released all businesses in Florida of restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Phase 3 of the Florida Reopening Plan was supposed to “begin after the successful conclusion of Phase 2 and will occur when there is no evidence of a rebound or resurgence of COVID-19 cases.”
According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 can take anywhere from two to 14 days following exposure to develop. This means it is too early to tell if President Trump’s rally and Governor DeSantis’s actions will have any serious repercussions for those in Florida who attended.
Featured image: Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2017. Unmodified photo by Gage Skidmore used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/2JfkYv3)
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