“Everyone told me I was wrong,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in a fundraising appeal on Tuesday, drawing attention to his defiance against the pandemic. “I faced continued pressure from radical Democrats and the liberal media, but I refused to back down. It’s clear: Florida got it right.”
Despite far fewer rules and restrictions, Florida lands nearly in the middle of all states on a variety of coronavirus metrics. The state has had about 3% more Covid-19 cases per capita than the US overall, but about 8% fewer deaths per capita. More than 32,000 Floridians have died of Covid-19, and the state’s per capita death rate ranks 24th in the nation.
“Those lockdowns have not worked. They’ve done great damage to our country,” DeSantis said Tuesday at a news conference in Tallahassee. “We can never let something like this happen again. Florida took a different path. We’ve had more success as a result.”
DeSantis — who, at 42, is the nation’s youngest governor — is standing out among his peers and seizing upon what he and his supporters believe is a vindication for their policies.
Lockdowns and school openings are suddenly a new measure for voters to hold governors and other elected officials accountable, a sign that the politics of the pandemic could open an uncertain chapter for many holding public office. He will be among the governors putting his record to the test when he runs for re-election next year.
“We still have millions of kids across this country who are denied access to in-person education,” DeSantis said at the news conference. “We still have businesses closed in many parts of this country. We have millions and millions of lives destroyed.”
‘It would not be booming if it was shut down’
With spring on the horizon, DeSantis suddenly appears to be in a position of strength compared to some of his fellow governors, including many of whom took far more restrictive approaches to the fight against coronavirus that caused a trickle-down effect on the economy.
He is not facing a potential recall like California Gov. Gavin Newsom, under investigation like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo or being second-guessed for lifting a statewide mask mandate like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
DeSantis refused to implement a mask mandate in the first place, making him an outlier a year ago. At the time, he was hewing closely to President Donald Trump’s playbook, which he argued at the time was good for business.
The unemployment rate in Florida is 4.8 %, according to the latest figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 6.8% in Texas, 8.8% in New York and 9% in California.
“If you look at what’s happening in South Florida right now, I mean this place is booming. It would not be booming if it was shut down,” DeSantis said last month as a crush of tourists began arriving. “Los Angeles isn’t booming. New York City’s not booming. It’s booming here because you can live like a human being.”
Florida has recorded about 9,204 cases per 100,000 people and about 150 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Across the country overall, there have been about 8,969 cases per 100,000 people and 163 deaths per 100,000…