If this past year has taught us anything, it is that science is often overlooked in the name of politics, and votes can be valued over lives. For example, Gov. Ron DeSantis recently suspended all COVID-19 protocols and signed SB 2006 that alters emergency tools available for local governments.
The new bill, SB 2006, enacts several new protocols that severely restrict the powers of local agencies during emergencies.
The politicization of wearing a mask in public spaces is indicative of the blind polarization that has gripped our nation and state. Former President Donald Trump and the anti-intellectual movement that his establishment supported made our country’s response to the pandemic look pathetic.
The move to end all local COVID-19 restrictions in the state of Florida is done with blatant disregard for the evidence that the pandemic is still wreaking havoc on our communities. In addition, DeSantis’s failure to discuss this pivotal order with local officials whose communities were ravaged by the pandemic is even more disappointing.
Broward County Mayor Steve Geller and other local south Florida leaders have been outspoken critics of the order, with Geller even suggesting that this move proves that DeSantis “seems to care more about politics than public safety in the state of Florida.”
The frustration that local leaders are expressing is well warranted. With over 2.2 million total cases and over 300,000 active cases, Florida ranks third in the U.S. for the highest number of COVID-19 infections. Although over seven million Floridians have been fully vaccinated — one of DeSantis’s major reasons for ending the restrictions — this is still far below the 80-90% vaccination or prior infection rate needed for herd immunity.
Why DeSantis has decided to skirt past CDC recommendations and ignore the wishes of local leaders while over 3,000 Floridians continue to get infected with COVID-19 every day is a mystery. Was it a cunning political move to appeal to his conservative base, or was it just misinformation and misguided governance?
Along with SB 2006, DeSantis simultaneously signed a bill to limit the power of local governments to close businesses and schools during emergencies. Not only has DeSantis used his power to override local COVID-19 protocols, but he also has limited the power of localities by banning all future government-enforced lockdowns other than hurricane emergencies — regardless of how much longer the pandemic endures.
DeSantis, despite witnessing the destruction this entire pandemic has caused, has decided that the lockdowns that slowed the spread of COVID-19 should not be possible in our state again.
To call these actions negligence would be an understatement; they have the potential to be catastrophic.
DeSantis also made the decision to ban businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination to receive services, allowing them to endanger themselves and those around them.
One has to look no further than the resurgence of COVID-19 in India to visualize the devastation of a second wave of the virus. This new wave of anti-intellectualism and the prioritization of “individual liberties” over the common good will spell disaster for our state and nation if left unheeded.
Whether DeSantis likes it or not, the reality is that the fight against COVID-19 is far from over, and his recent actions have set up Florida for failure in any and all future crises.
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Featured Image: Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo taken by Gage Skidmore and used under a Creative Commons License (https://bit.ly/3u8Xeuo).