Governor Ron DeSantis blamed media outlets for promulgating ‘hysteria’ on Tuesday, pointing to their role in creating fear-induced panic surrounding the state’s rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Speaking at a Miami press conference regarding Everglades restoration efforts, vowed to “not shut down” Florida, amid a nationwide surge brought on by the delta variant, promising to safeguard jobs and small businesses across the state. The Governor also touted the state’s role in getting seniors vaccinated, juxtaposing their exposure to the virus with that of younger people.
“We think doing the seniors first was the right thing to do. At the end of the day would I rather have 5,000 cases among 20 year-olds or 500 cases among seniors? I would rather have the younger,” DeSantis said, noting that “protecting the vulnerable” was the right move.
The Governor also lambasted media organizations for painting the state’s hospitalizations with a broad stroke. DeSantis targeted outlets for their failure to highlight the details surrounding patients and declared that “hospital admissions have slowed.”
“I think it’s important to point out, because obviously, media does hysteria. You try to fear monger, you try to do this stuff. And when they talk about hospitalizations, our hospitals are open for business. Like I said, in Jackson [Jackson Memorial Hospital] our COVID patients are half of what they said last year. Even in places that have more, COVID patients represent a fraction of the overall hospital beds and I don’t want to see a repeat, that people with heart problems don’t go in [to hospitals].”
DeSantis added, “With all due respect, I find that deplorable to blame a victim who ends up being hospitalized. You don’t know their story. You don’t know what happened.”
The press conference drew backlash from DeSantis challenger and Agriculture of Commissioner Nikki Fried, who claimed DeSantis’ take on hospitalizations was “not true.”
“Our governor just said hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Florida have slowed. That’s not true,” Fried said in a post to Twitter. “Please follow the data and facts.”
Fried, who is a Democratic gubernatorial candidate and outspoken critic of DeSantis, appeared on MSNBC’s “Katy Tur Reports” earlier today, continuing to position herself as the de facto leader on COVID-19.
“You know, I am running for Governor of the state of Florida, but I never expected to start the job now,” Fried remarked. “I certainly expected to start the job in 2023, but we’re doing the Governor’s job for him because he’s been absent from our state, leaving the people out here very vulnerable.”
Florida continues to be a hotbed for infections, as the new variant slams a younger set of the population. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported over 11,500 people were hospitalized for COVID-19.