Today’s Senate Democrat Caucus Press Conference on Corona Virus was billed as a discussion of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the democrat senators offered little in the way of solutions to what they described as a “growing iceberg.”
Florida Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer, D-Lighthouse Point, said they were not calling for a shutdown but rather “harm reduction mitigation,” by calling for a statewide mask mandate. They also called for more transparency in COVID-related data and reports.
For a press conference that, according to Farmer, was not supposed to be a personal attack of Governor Ron DeSantis, the rhetoric got a little heated.
Senator Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said DeSantis needs to “get his head out from under the president’s behind and lead and represent this state.”
The caucus attacked the governor on Florida’s unemployment rate, even though last week’s Florida total was among the lowest for a seven-day period since pandemic-related unemployment devastated the state and nation in April. Since the start of November, the state has averaged just over 26,000 new claims a week.
Members of the caucus said DeSantis hasn’t updated Floridians on the virus since the election ended. Senator Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, all but said the only reason DeSantis did so then was for politics. However, the governor has held several video announcements on upcoming COVID vaccines and the state’s plan to distribute them.
Cruz went on a long, sarcastic rant, saying, “The governor cannot find the time to update the public on a range of pressing issues from unemployment to the pandemic response to communication on the damned vaccine” and if “he is not willing to do the job this pandemic demands, he should step aside.”
She continued by complaining about having to work harder because the Democrats lost seats in November and even mocking the vaccines.
Cruz was not the only one to minimalize the vaccines. Farmer said, “Waiting for the magic of vaccines is not the answer. Those vaccines, even though one may be approved in the coming days or even today, are still far, far, away from distribution to the masses as a whole. We don’t know the safety and efficacy of those vaccines.”
He called on the governor to do more to get more resources from the federal government, even though DeSantis has secured an agreement to get both vaccines to Florida as soon as approved, along with needed supplies to administer the vaccines as well as new treatments for the virus.
Victor Torres, D-Lakeland, called for Attorney General Ashley Moody to launch an investigation into any potential violations of state public records laws which may have occurred relating to the virus and if any numbers were deliberately manipulated or altered in anyway.
Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, shared Torres’ distrust of Florida’s COVID statistical information, “The governor can sketch the rosiest of pictures and manipulate all the data that he wants. But the word is out that he does not have this virus under control and has no interest in doing so.”