Ron DeSantis slammed as ‘pied piper’ of Covid as Florida breaks hospitalisation record

‘The governor has made it as difficult as possible to make people safe’

Louise Hall
Monday 02 August 2021 20:22
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urges Floridians to take Covid vaccine despite leading anti-lockdown efforts

A Florida mayor has slammed governor Ron DeSantis as the “pied piper” of coronavirus for opposing pandemic health measures as cases across the state surge.

Dan Gelber, the mayor of Miami Beach, appeared on CNN on Sunday and was asked by host Ryan Nobles where the city falls on the mandate of masks to prevent virus spread.

"We’re not allowed to have mask mandates right now," Mr Gelber replied. “The governor stopped allowing us to do it, then immediately we saw a surge across our county and state when he did that. So we’re in a very tough position."

The mayor went on to criticise moves by the governor, who has taken a hard-line stance on pandemic mitigation efforts like lockdowns and face mask mandates.

"We are trying to do everything we can to get around the governor’s very wrong-headed desires," Mr Gelber said. "The governor has made it as difficult as possible to make people safe."

“We’ll do everything we can. The problem is he’s really hamstrung us,” Mr Gelber insisted. “He’s like the pied piper leading everybody off a cliff right now by letting them know that they don’t have to like the CDC.”

In May, the governor issued an executive order ending all local Covid-19 restrictions, mandates and emergency orders implemented amid the health crisis.

He has also previously signed executive orders banning the use of vaccine passports and has made his rejection of federal coronavirus measures a focal point of his re-election campaign.

A spokesperson for the executive office of the governor told The Independent that the “data does not support Mr Gelber’s assertion that mask mandates make people safe from Covid-19”.

Press Secretary, Christina Pushaw, said: “Governor DeSantis’ position is clear: Mandates do not work to stop Covid-19. The empirical evidence supports his position on this.

With that being said, the Governor and Florida Department of Health have always encouraged Floridians to protect themselves and their communities.”

Ms Pushaw stipulated that “the best way” to protect communities in Florida was to get vaccinated, signposting the “almost 100 times” Mr DeSantis had “mentioned the vaccines positively” in public remarks since November.

Mr DeSantis has maintained his resistance as cases in the state surge, with the Sunshine State having surpassed its previous record for current hospitalisations set over a year ago on Sunday.

Ms Pushaw said that “counties in Florida that imposed mask mandates last year did not demonstrate significantly better Covid-19 outcomes, in terms of hospitalisations and deaths, than counties that had no mask mandates.”

Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator, revealed earlier this month that one in five of all cases in the country is occurring in Florida alone.

The surge comes amid the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant in states with lower rates of vaccination. Health officials have  Americans take up their shots as soon as possible.

On Sunday, Florida had 10,207 people hospitalised with confirmed Covid-19 cases, averaging 1,525 adult hospitalisations a day, and 35 daily pediatric hospitalisations.

The increase in cases marked a 50 per cent jump this week, with more than 110,000 new coronavirus cases reported statewide,  up from 73,000 the week before.

Around 60 per cent of Floridians aged 12 and older have received a coronavirus vaccination, and in line with health guidance Mr DeSantis has advised residents to continue getting their shots.

"If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from Covid is effectively zero ... These vaccines are saving lives," he said last week.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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