Florida Governor DeSantis has failed to recognize the seriousness of the exploding COVID-19 pandemic in Florida. His slow response and poor judgment have already cost many Floridians their lives and may cost many thousands more if he fails to act now.
Among the 50 states in the US, Florida currently ranks 11th in hotness — i.e., the number of confirmed cases per million residents with 191 (see the second column in the table above). Not so bad until you realize that every state hotter than Florida (other than Georgia) has already ordered statewide travel restrictions of one form or another. In fact, 25 governors to date have ordered some form of lockdown. DeSantis has refused to hear pleas from his legislators to do just that. So Florida mayors and county commissioners have taken the matter into their own hands and ordered travel restrictions on a county-by-county basis. For example, in the Metro Miami area, both Miami-Dade and Broward counties have travel restrictions in place. In the metro Orlando area, Orange County has travel restrictions but Seminole County does not. This has led to confusion and ultimately will result in ineffectiveness because so many people work, live, shop and travel back and forth across both counties. These travel restrictions must be enacted on an MSA (metropolitan statistical area) or a state level to be effective.
Governor DeSantis’s slow response is one thing, worse is his open invitation to Spring Breakers to effectively “come on down and party, the water is fine.” Florida currently has a patchwork of rules regarding beaches — some are open, some are closed, some are open one day and closed the next. New Orleans has just realized the folly of their actions in allowing Mardi Gras to proceed this year at the end of February. Two weeks later it has resulted in an explosion of cases in New Orleans and Louisiana (#3 in hotness in the table above). The same fate could await Florida a few weeks after Spring Break ends. Along with bikers from Bike Week, returning Snowbirders from metro-NYC, Florida Governor’s slow and weak response could cost many lives. Florida was COVID-19 free before March 3rd (although we have serious doubts about this given severe under-testing nationwide and in Florida), and this pandemic need not have happened in Florida if Trump and/or DeSantis had acted in February. With the pandemic growing exponentially in Florida (see log-linear graph above), it is still not too late to act now and save thousands of lives in Florida.