Gainesville, Florida (Special to Informed Comment) – Just like the noble from La Mancha named Alonso Quixano, who read so many chivalric romances that he loses his mind and decides to become the knight-errant Don Quixote to revive chivalry and serve his nation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis similarly has lost his mind and portrayed himself as the leader who is standing up for individual freedom against what he depicted as a malevolent, big-government Biden. The Florida Quixote DeSantis tilted at Biden’s windmills with his own projections; he experiences Biden’s plan as riddled with ineptitude, incompetence, maliciousness.
During a short break from vigorous windmill tilting, DeSantis recently gave a fascinating rhetorical monologue:“The question is we can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state”. “And I can tell you, Florida, we’re a free state. People are going to be free to choose to make their own decisions about themselves about their families, about their kids’ education and about putting food on the table. … Let me tell you this: If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I’m standing in your way, I’m not going to let you get away with it.”
Meanwhile, as another wave of Covid struck America, and Florida’s infection is through the roof, Gov. Ron DeSantis has taking the Covid-19 misinformation campaign to a new low by selling merchandise that is not only anti-medicine, but directly attacks Dr. Anthony Fauci. Now available from our governor are T-shirts, beer cozies and cheap mugs with logos :”Keep Florida Free” and “Don’t Fauci my Florida”, all a deadly and childish ploy to further seduce the anti-vax/QAnon crowd. “While hospitals in our state were filling up, DeSantis was shouting about ‘Freedom over Faucism,'” said Bernard Ashby, a Miami-based cardiologist and head of the of the Florida chapter of the Committee to Protect Health Care. “If DeSantis were as concerned about stopping Covid-19 spread as he was about coming up with these clever jabs about Dr. Fauci, we might not be in this position.” While DeSantis has publicly stressed the importance of vaccination in recent days, Florida physicians have attributed the surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in the state to the governor’s rush to end public health restrictions.
DeSantis continues to play to the cheap seats by preying on those who want to turn this into an outrage and wedge issue, and make campaign money off of COVID while minimizing the pain of those who have lost loved ones in Florida and across the country. It is dismaying to see where we are in the state of Florida, where the cases this last week have almost doubled from the week before at 45,000 cases. One out of every five new cases is coming out of Florida. It’s grotesque, irresponsible , deadly— the idea of spiting ourselves, of harming ourselves in order to own the liberals . People like Ron DeSantis (and Don Quixote) do not see the world for what it is, and prefer to imagine, as does Gov. DeSantis, that he is living out an imaginary story where the adversary/windmill is the “biomedical security state”.
PUBLIC HEALTH COVID-19 TRAVELERS ALERT – FLORIDA
Everyone planning a visit to Florida should first make certain that their ‘living will’ is up-to-date. Very important also is to bring your living will with you since Florida GOP governor and DJT sycophant, Ron DeSantis, announced the complete reopening of Florida, allowing crowds in restaurants and bars. He won’t allow city governments to fine residents who won’t wear masks or establishments that do not honor social distancing.
Florida schools and universities are being undermined by Gov. DeSantis/GOP policies that completely contradict messages that local school boards and universities, such as University of Florida, are telling their students about following safe practices. The governor is encouraging risky behavior while acting like he is more expert than faculty at UF in the schools of public health, medicine, pharmacy, nursing etc., the CDC and other Florida and U.S. universities who have actual expertise in infectious diseases, the basic principles of epidemiology and public health. DeSantis risks repeating what happened after he took a premature victory lap in late April 2020, as he lifted COVID-related limits on businesses. Just a few weeks later a summer surge of cases forced the state to ban drinking at bars, where crowded conditions had contributed to the spread of the virus.
Currently, Florida has suffered one of the largest case tolls in the U.S.Testing is returning less than a 5% positivity rate, which the CDC considers a “lower risk” but not “lowest risk” for opening schools. DeSantis’s prescriptions for bars and restaurants to operate with no masks or social distancing are the “highest risk”procedures according to the CDC and seem likely to provoke a big second wave in fall-winter.
COVID-19 is especially deadly to the elderly, and Florida has a disproportionate number of retirees, so DeSantis’s measures are likely to kill a lot of older adults, ages 60 and up.. But with schools soon reopening and people thinking maybe the worst was over and gathering again in bars, restaurants, and sport venues you get a big jump in cases to worrying levels. DeSantis is setting Florida up for an even worse spike. Just letting many people die is not a policy. It is a sort of genocide by malign neglect on behalf of the business community.
The state of Florida now accounts for one in five new coronavirus infections in the United States, making it the nation’s most alarming hot spot as the highly transmissible Delta strain rips through undervaccinated communities and drives a surge in hospitalizations. According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has recorded 73,181 new Covid-19 cases over the past week, the most in the country. Florida also logged the most coronavirus deaths of any U.S. state in the last seven days—319—and hospitalizations are spiking, prompting dire warnings from physicians and calls for public safety measures to stop the spread.
Gov. DeSantis’s deceptively innocent, delusional “feel good” Florida Covid model has accelerated the traditional GOP lockstep service to the very rich corporate sector and has mobilized extremist sectors of society in the assault against 99% of the population -— to privatize, deregulate, limit Fla. government and increase austerity while retaining those profiteering parts that serve their .001% masters/patrons wealth, power, including GOP oligarchs and other politicians beholden to unaccountable private corporations.
A health professional working at a Florida hospital reports his emergency room is now full with people suffering from COVID. None were vaccinated, including many of his co-workers and nurses. Remarkably, most of these health professionals got the usual childhood vaccines for polio, smallpox, and well established vaccines for typhoid, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, tetanus. Why is Covid-19 vaccine different from all other vaccines?
The answer is that the anti-vax movement overlaps with the Trump movement. Much needed is a vaccine against delusional/magical thinking, thinking that’s promoted by GOP politicians like Gov. Ron DeSantis and others.The only way to slow down these surges is for everyone to get vaccinated, and strictly follow the basic principles of epidemiology and public health. The longer we wait, the more people will die. Let’s hope that everyone, including Gov. DeSantis, will be realistic and follow the basic public health principles of epidemiology. And of course, not follow Don Quixote, who’s story, as everyone knows, did not end well.
Bonus Video added by Informed Comment: