Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a close ally of former President Donald Trump and potential Republican presidential primary candidate in 2024, is facing new criticism from the Miami Herald — a prominent newspaper in his home state — over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis. As the Herald pointedly observed, DeSantis has “seemed to care not one bit about the health and well-being of most Floridians as the pandemic raged.”
Throughout the pandemic, DeSantis has consistently resisted demands for him to take the situation more seriously. He never imposed a statewide mandate to wear face masks, and as COVID-19 cases — and deaths — surged in the state late last year, he insisted that Florida would not be reimposing stricter restrictions.
The Miami Herald offered its criticism of DeSantis after an official determination from Florida’s Office of the Inspector General that Rebekah Jones — who worked as a data analyst for the Florida Department of Health — is a “whistleblower.” This official determination gives “certain protections” to Jones, the Herald noted. Jones has alleged that, while on the job, she was pressured to manipulate the presentation of the state’s COVID-19-related data to more closely align with the public statements of the DeSantis administration.
In November of last year — as virus cases sharply rose — DeSantis insisted at a press conference that he was “opposed to mandates period,” saying that he doesn’t “think they work.” He petulantly added at the time that the “lie of the lockdown was if you just lockdowned, then you can beat the virus.” That idea is not a “lie.” In reality, keeping COVID-19 from spreading uncontrolled among the public does, in fact, keep people from dying. If certain people never even have an opportunity to contract the virus, then how is that not helpful? It’s pretty basic! Even if it doesn’t constitute a total defeat of the virus, isn’t it enough to help save any lives at all? DeSantis wasn’t moved.
As for the Jones case, the Herald says that they’ve “reviewed” emails backing up elements of her story. As the publication puts it:
‘So far, [Florida Department of Health] emails reviewed by the Miami Herald show Jones was asked to remove data from public view after receiving questions about it from the news organization. In addition, she has gone up against an administration that has shamelessly concealed vital COVID information during the past year. Unfortunately, the possibility of DOH manipulating information is not a stretch. An investigation continues, and with the cover of whistleblower status. Jones will need to vigorously back up her allegations and the state, its defense. For now, Jones’ whistleblower victory stands to be a win over state secrecy for the rest of us.’
Read the full article from the Miami Herald at this link.