To see what’s going on in Florida, these two charts help to paint the picture. First, here’s the chart of daily new cases of COVID-19. Those cases are at a record high in the state, and for weeks, Florida has been running well ahead of any other state.
But here’s what Florida is presenting when it comes to reporting daily deaths.
That abrupt decline in Florida’s reported deaths, which starts two weeks ago, is entirely an artifact of how the state is now reporting deaths. If you looked at it last week, the chart would look remarkably the same — showing an abrupt decline that started about two weeks earlier. A casual glance at the rate of COVID-19 deaths in Florida always shows that 1) Today wasn’t bad at all, and 2) Things are rapidly improving. Neither of these is true. But they’re exactly what the state is showing to the nation and world.
Some other states report their data in this way, but they’ve done so since the start of the pandemic. Florida is unique in changing its reporting just as cases in the state spiked. Deaths in Florida are now … whatever Florida says they are.
That’s extremely convenient for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who began talking about how the state changed the way it reports the information in the same week that the “leading indicators” were all looking up. As Florida Politics reported at the time, DeSantis bragged on August 10 that his leading indicators showed that things were rapidly improving. DeSantis repeated this claim over several days, and when reporters tried to question that assertion, pointed again to those mysterious “leading indicators.” The worst of the summer wave was over, insisted DeSantis, who said he was “happy with seeing those trends, and we think they’re likely to continue doing that.”
It might be worth noting that DeSantis gave this upbeat message at a conference in Jacksonville, where he was supposed to be joined by the county sheriff. However, as the Florida Times-Union reports, the sheriff was busy. Being sick. With COVID.
On Monday, DeSantis was still tweeting upbeat news and pushing his education department to attack schools that try to protect children, but he was actually in New Jersey. As the New Jersey Globe reports, DeSantis was in the Garden State for the second time, at a big-dollar fundraiser for his all-but-announced 2024 presidential run.
DeSantis isn’t running away from his handling of COVID-19 in Florida. He’s running on it. His refusal to allow businesses, including cruise ships, to check for vaccination, and his attack on schools that require students to wear masks, is the standard position for Republicans who hope to snag the nomination for the next cycle. Both vaccine and mask mandates are broadly popular with the American people, but DeSantis does give a flying fig about the American people. He’s working for the Republican base and only for the Republican base, which, in 2021, has become an entirely different animal.
As Jamelle Bouie writes in The New York Times, it’s not clear if DeSantis is running against safe schools and public health. He may be actively working for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Rather than work with him to vaccinate the country, Biden’s Republican opposition has, with only a few exceptions, done everything in its power to politicize the vaccine and make refusal to cooperate a test of partisan loyalty. The party is, for all practical purposes, pro-Covid. If it’s sincere, it is monstrous. And if it’s not, it is an unbelievably cynical and nihilistic strategy. Unfortunately for both Biden and the country, it appears to be working.
Killing their own supporters to own the libs isn’t just a sick joke. It’s a sick reality.
What amounts to a Republican effort to prolong the pandemic shows no sign of abating. It may even get worse, as powerful conservative media personalities spread vaccine skepticism and embrace dubious miracle cures like ivermectin, a drug typically used to treat parasitic worms in livestock, not viruses in humans.
Of course, this doesn’t mean low-level conservative personalities like radio hosts. Because those people —the true believers—are dying. The people pressing for unproven cures like ivermectin or for supposed cure-alls that are pricey and of limited availability, as the antibody cocktail from Regeneron. are those who already have safely been vaccinated and those who, like the workers at Fox, carefully monitor vaccination and potential exposure.
Ron DeSantis is subjectively pro-virus, objectively pro-virus, and every other -ectively pro-virus.
Which is the same thing as being anti-American.