As COVID-19 infections reach record highs in Florida, a local mayor is accusing Governor Ron DeSantis of dereliction of duty.
“Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?” asked Democrat Jerry Demings at a Wednesday press conference.
“We have not received any assistance from the state of Florida at our testing sites,” Demings noted, adding that “Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged.”
The Associated Press reports:
The mayor of Orange County, home to Orlando, said local governments had been forced to figure out on their own, without help from the state, how to respond to the omicron variant that has rapidly overtaken the delta variant as the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Florida.
Florida hit a new record for daily cases last weekend, with the state reporting 32,850 new cases on Saturday. The state reported more than 29,000 new cases on Tuesday.
The Orlando Sentinel notes:
DeSantis last spoke about COVID-19 on Dec. 17 alongside Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, promoting a monoclonal antibody therapy made by AstraZeneca. Weesam Khoury, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health, said the state in June transitioned to a locally-led effort, with testing available at pharmacies and private practices as well.
“As of today, as a result of the collaboration between the Department of Health in Orange County and the Orange County government, there are no unmet resource requests — from municipalities, hospitals or private practices,” Khoury said in an email.
“We shouldn’t judge the governor by the number of press conferences,” Republican Scott Plakon of Florida’s 29th District said, according to a local NBC affiliate.
But Demings alleges that DeSantis has actively hampered Florida’s COVID-19 response. More from The AP:
Demings said new restrictions placed by DeSantis and the Florida Legislature on actions that can be taken by local governments and private businesses to combat the virus have made fighting the pandemic more difficult. A new law signed by DeSantis last month prevents businesses from having vaccine mandates unless they allow workers to opt out, bars schools and governments from having vaccine mandates and allows parents to sue schools with masking requirements.
Demings also said the state should help foot the bill for the testing that is being conducted at county sites.
DeSantis is running for reelection in 2022 and is widely considered a potential contender for the GOP’s 2024 presidential election.