With COVID-19 cases across the state experiencing a summer surge, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried continues her crusade against Governor Ron DeSantis‘ leadership, providing coronavirus updates while framing herself as Florida’s voice against the pandemic.
Fried, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is skipping the primary and cosplaying as governor — despite the election being over a year away — holding regular media briefings as the Sunshine State experiences a rise in COVID-19 cases. With the delta variant targeting young, unvaccinated people, COVID-19 infections in Florida, as well as many other states, have spiraled in recent weeks.
On Sunday, Fried briefed media on COVID-19 at the Florida Capitol, noting the state’s largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases, which tallied 21,683 new cases. Fried also urged Floridians to ban together, wear masks, and get vaccinated.
“We have to do this together,” Fried reaffirmed in a video posted to her Twitter page on Monday. “That means vaccinating. That means masking up. That means social distancing where you can. That means not going into elevators again with people you don’t know.”
It’s bad in Florida, but there is still hope. Please share the good news, too. pic.twitter.com/b5YIYxj8XT
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) August 2, 2021
With the state experiencing an increase in cases, along with Monday’s record-breaking hospitalizations, a renewed push to lay the blame at DeSantis’ feet has intensified. Detractors, including Fried, have lambasted the Governor in recent weeks for his opposition to new pandemic-related restrictions. Last week, DeSantis signed an executive order directing the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) and Department of Health (FDOH) to issue emergency rules protecting the rights of parents to decide whether their children will wear masks when the school year begins.
Fried is also taking her COVID-19 mantle to the national stage. The lone statewide Democrat appeared on CNN’s “New Day” early Monday morning, doubling down on her criticism of DeSantis. During the interview, Fried scolded DeSantis for “putting his head in the sand” amidst the pandemic and accused the Governor of “working on his 2024 presidential bid.” Fried also promulgated the theory that DeSantis is “anti-mask” and “anti-vaccine.”
“He’s not pushing vaccines. He’s not pushing testing. And instead, doing just the opposite,” Fried claimed, before being corrected by co-anchor John Berman.
“To be fair, Ron DeSantis is not ‘anti-vax,'” Berman suggested. “He has received the vaccine and supports people getting the vaccine.”
Fried also weighed in on the controversy surrounding masks, saying she does not support a statewide mask mandate, but added that DeSantis should empower local governments and school boards to make the right decisions for their community.
“Every county needs to make their own decisions,” Fried said when asked whether children should be required to wear masks. “No statewide mask mandate, but I certainly would want every school board to have the power to make the right decisions for their own communities.”
Nikki Fried, the Democratic gubernatorial challenger to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, says she does not favor a statewide mask mandate.
— New Day (@NewDay) August 2, 2021