‘Shame on you!’: Florida governor Ron DeSantis heckled over coronavirus surge

Protester interrupted press conference to hector governor for 'doing nothing' while more than 4,000 people died

Andrew Naughtie
Tuesday 14 July 2020 11:36 BST
Florida governor heckled at coronavirus press conference

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, was shouted at by an angry citizen as he updated the press on his state’s fight against the coronavirus.

Mr DeSantis, whose state is seeing a dramatic surge in cases after opening up in May, was just beginning his address to the media when a loud voice from across the room began berating him and Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez.

“Shame on you! You are an embarrassment!” shouted the man. “You are an embarrassment! We are getting record-breaking cases every day, and you are doing nothing! You are falsifying information, and you are misleading the public!

“Over 4,000 people have died and you are blaming the protesters. You guys have no plan and you’re doing nothing. Shame on you.”

The heckler, Thomas Kennedy, was quickly ushered out of the room by security. He later tweeted a video of the incident he shot himself.

“I just interrupted a press conference in Miami-Dade to let governor @RonDeSantisFL and @MayorGimenez know they are an embarrassment to FL and that their incompetence and lack of planning has resulted in the current public health crisis,” he wrote.

“4,381 people have died so far in FL.”

Mr DeSantis has become a target of national opprobrium for first boasting that his state had avoided a major outbreak, then reopening it only to see the number of cases start skyrocketing a few weeks later.

He has recently claimed that the surge is in large part due to expanded testing and reflects a rise in cases among young people, who are less vulnerable to the disease’s most life-threatening symptoms. However, his state has only recently released full data on hospitalisations, which help offer a clearer picture of just how serious the surge is.

The data is certainly disturbing: many hospitals report that their ICUs are either full or nearly full, and with the state’s test positivity rate climbing, a steady and rising stream of admissions is expected.

Florida this weekend broke the record for the highest number of new cases announced on a single day by any state, announcing 15,300 new infections on Sunday. That number tops even New York’s worst day – 12,274, on 4 April.

And while the Florida death toll is still nowhere near New York’s, there are worries that the significant lag time between infection and death could mean a spike in deaths is set to follow in coming weeks and months.

Florida is one of several states experiencing a sharp rise in numbers, with Texas, Arizona and California in particular scrambling to get as many citizens as possible wearing face masks in public. California in particular is closing down businesses like indoor bars and restaurants where the virus is thought to most easily spread.

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