DeSantis has signed new orders and laws nullifying vaccination and mask requirements imposed by most other entities in the state. (His orders steadfastly avoid messing with the The Walt Disney Company, though; even DeSantis knows that taking a shot at Disney will end up with someone buried twelve feet deep under the concrete footings of the latest Splash Mountain.) His all-out battle with the cruise ship industry to ensure they may not require their guests be vaccinated before welcoming them onto the world’s most efficient mechanism for spreading disease is among the most famous; his new order barring mask requirements in Florida schools even as the pandemic once again soars may turn out to be the most consequential.
But if there’s any question over whether DeSantis is countering public safety measures during a global health emergency purely as political stunt aimed at his conspiracy rubes, selling “Don’t Fauci My Florida” swag through his political committee should answer that one. Screw you, experts who suggest the mildest possible safety measures during a time of 600,000 U.S. deaths. Our family members didn’t die in two world wars for a world in which I would have to briefly wear cloth on my face in a grocery store.
Anyway, if you haven’t heard, the shit has now hit the fan (again) in Florida, and it’s a direct result of each of DeSantis’ moves to scrub out pandemic emergency measures while attacking those that promote masking, vaccines, and social distancing as anti-American oppressors. Florida pandemic cases have now topped the previous all-time records set during last winter’s massive surge; about twenty percent of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are in the towns and cities under DeSantis’ mandates. It’s been absolutely huge, and DeSantis has responded solely with new insistences that no matter how bad it gets or how many Florida residents die, he won’t be relenting on orders that block cities and businesses from imposing safety measures of their own.
It is very, very, very bad and it’s going to get worse.
Meanwhile, the rest of Florida’s Republican brain trust is dismissing the state’s new surge as “hysteria” because among vaccinated Americans, “serious illness appears to be near zero.”
Yeah, um … Florida hospitals are not hitting the panic buttons because they’re now overfilled with vaccinated, healthy Floridians. They’re treating the unvaccinated people who listened to Ron DeSantis and other Republicans when those Republicans called the pandemic overhyped “hysteria” through each of the 600,000 prior deaths.
Something in Florida is going to break, and it’s probably going to be the hospitals. DeSantis and the state’s other Republicans have signaled that there is no way in hell they will allow cities to take further emergency measures, which is an absolutely certain method of ensuring the surge’s peak will arrive only after spreading employee illness causes the unexpected closure of local government offices, schools, and businesses regardless of DeSantis’ orders—after all hell has broken loose, in other words, and DeSantis has no further say in it.
Other states are seeing pandemic surges as well, and there’s little speculation needed as to why. After COVID-19 vaccines became widely available to the public, states relaxed pandemic safety measures for the vaccinated. This naturally resulted in large swaths of unvaccinated Americans mimicking the same non-measures, and now a portion of those Americans are sitting in hospital beds, along with significant numbers of children too young for the vaccine and too powerless to have much say in whether the adults around them will infect them.
But DeSantis is a special case. The political media, which apparently is made up entirely of people too dim and gullible to make it on any other beat, fawned over every one of DeSantis’ declarations of victory over the virus as if he were somehow not just a cheap, grifting sack of ambition determined to ride his political base’s resentment towards self-sacrifice into as many new pandemic surges as it takes to propel him into the party’s top position. We were told over and over that the Florida “approach” of doing very damn little and crowing about it had proven effective, and impressive, so long as you skipped the parts with mass death and incompetent, almost malevolent state bumbling.
DeSantis will not be moved by the new surge. He and the state’s other top Republicans will prop up the new corpses as trophies of their party’s purported victory: Floridians may be stuffing the state’s hospitals to overflowing, but it is a small price to pay for the right to sell political swag mocking health experts as oppressive overseers whose mask mandates and social distancing warnings are crafted specifically because they are trying to make conservatives feel bad.
If you’re in Florida, vaccinated or not, put yourself in lockdown. Wear the mask in public. Don’t go anywhere you don’t have to. If you haven’t been vaccinated, get vaccinated immediately. The hospitals are filling up and there will be no room for you. Spend the next four weeks taking care of yourself, because heaven knows your state’s government doesn’t give a flying damn about what’s lurking outside your door.