PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis made a bold declaration on Tuesday afternoon: “Our work is succeeding ... we have flattened the curve.”
Earlier in the day, DeSantis was on Fox News as part of what appears to be a pandemic victory lap.
“We did not go the way of Italy, we did not go the way of New York City,” he said. “In fact, we’ve done much much better.”
On cable news, on his YouTube channel and in a press conference, DeSantis summarized his accomplishments in testing and maintaining hospital bed resources.
Like President Donald Trump at the national level, the Republican governor has become the advocate in chief when it comes to reopening Florida. His task force is expected to make recommendations on how and when that will happen on Friday.
But Florida remains a hot zone, with more than 27,000 COVID-19 cases and 867 dead because of the virus, and opponents say he may be moving too quickly.
“We cannot put a dollar sign over the value of someone’s life,” said state Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park. “I think it’s dangerous. I think it’s irresponsible. And I do not believe that is what Floridians are looking to do. It’s too soon.”
Jones applauds the governor on issues like testing and halting evictions. But he’s critical of DeSantis’ task force to reopen the state, which Jones says is not representative of Florida, lacks women and doesn’t include enough medical experts.
DeSantis doesn’t necessarily need to win over the entire state with his message, though, says Sean Foreman, a political analyst from Barry University.
“I don’t think DeSantis is really looking to be popular across the state,” Foreman said. “He’s looking to do what’s the right thing for the Florida economy. And that may really make him unpopular with the health advocates, but it’s going to get him support with the business industry who helped put him in office in the first place.”
State Democrats say the governor does need to also be talking about Florida’s struggling unemployment system. Florida ranks at or near the bottom of all states in its speed of processing unemployment claims, federal data shows.
“Governor Ron DeSantis has failed the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who have lost their jobs from the pandemic,” Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, said in a statement. “Claims are being processed far too slowly, and far too many claims are being rejected. Floridians need a more robust system, fewer restrictions on applicants, and stronger benefits.”
In newly released data Tuesday morning, Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity says it has paid 14.2% of the confirmed unique jobless claims, up from just 6.2% a day earlier.
Watch DeSantis’ YouTube video from Monday below: