A leading Florida Democrat is blaming Governor Ron DeSantis for failing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, saying he focused too much on ensuring hospital beds and medical resources were available for the sick.
Senator Linda Stewart says DeSantis “mismanaged” the pandemic by focusing exclusively on treating Florida’s hospitalized victims rather than preventing the deadly infections in the first place. She issued the comments in response to his latest round table with Advent Health in Orlando.
“Governor DeSantis touted the state’s efforts to secure Remdesivir and convalescent plasma in order to treat patients with Covid-19. That’s great, but I’m reminded of the old saying: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” Stewart said. “Of course we need the resources to treat positive patients, but the best course of action would be to reduce the positive infection rate, which is still out of control at 12.68 percent statewide, and hospital ICU’s are facing maximum capacity.”
But the latest hospital bed availability report undercuts Stewart’s criticisms. Florida has more than 8,000 unoccupied beds available for COVID-19 patients, of which nearly 1,000 are unoccupied ICU beds. Democrats and their allies in the media continue to highlight a small number of individual hospitals that have reached ICU capacity, even though other hospitals in the county have ICU beds available. The vast majority of Florida counties have adequate ICU space.
Unsatisfied with blasting DeSantis for failing to stop college-aged youth from socializing, protesting and even rioting, which has helped accelerate the spread of the virus, Stewart also attacked DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran for their decision to let children go back to school for the 2020-2021 school year.
“We should not consider opening businesses or schools until we can get the positivity rate down to 5 percent. We need more aggressive testing with faster results, and a statewide mask order so we can look at a plan to safely re-open,” said Stewart, “Our economy will continue to suffer so long as the governor continues to bury his head in the sand, and the virus has free rein in our state.”
It’s not clear why Stewart wants to keep the economy shut down. Coronavirus infections in Florida have recently started to decline, while the rate of hospitalizations and deaths remain far below the rates experienced in other states like New York, which saw more than 400,000 infections and more than 32,000 people die from COVID-19, a case fatality rate of 7.7 percent. While Florida has seen a similar number of infections, the case fatality rate in the Sunshine State is just 1.3 percent.
Brian Burgess contributed to this report.