'As derelict as the president': Miami newspaper editorial board slams 'timid leader' Ron DeSantis in a scathing editorial
Many states in the U.S. — from Pennsylvania and New York to California — have enacted strict social distancing policies in response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 17,000 people worldwide (according to John Hopkins University). But in Florida, far-right Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been coming under fire over reports that the beaches of Miami have been crowded with students on spring break. And in a scathing editorial published on Sunday, March 22, the Miami Herald slams DeSantis for not being more proactive on social distancing and helping Floridians who are struggling financially.
“With Florida’s economy crashing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis is working overtime to preserve our status as the world’s leading exporter of political comedy,” the Miami Herald’s editorial board asserts. “Friday, DeSantis mounted the bully pulpit to present House Speaker Jose Oliva with a baseball bat inscribed with the words ‘slayer of the healthcare industrial complex.’ It was a sophomoric bit of messaging on any day; it was inexcusably tone-deaf when the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida topped 500.”
The editorial (which is headlined “Coronavirus Is Killing Us in Florida, Gov. DeSantis. Act like You Give a Damn”) goes on to attack DeSantis for being a “timid leader in the face of the growing scourge” — unlike the Democratic governors of New York and California.
“There is no operator’s manual for handling the most singular health threat in this country in more than a century,” the Herald’s editorial board explains. “But if there were, we would urge Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York or Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut to share it with Florida’s governor — quickly. These other state leaders have taken decisive actions, not necessarily popular but deemed necessary nonetheless, to slow the virus’ spread. Newsom ordered the 40 million state residents, with some exceptions, to stay home. Cuomo, Lamont and others have issued similar directives.”
The Herald’s editorial board recommends that DeSantis “spearhead a plan to help the abruptly out-of-work,” noting that he “made a decent start by eliminating the requirement that people seeking unemployment benefits must actively be looking for a job.” And the Herald notes that on Friday, March 20, DeSantis “issued the most widespread mandatory statewide restrictions on businesses to date — closing gyms, fitness centers and limiting restaurants to delivery service.”
But the board emphasizes that more needs to be done, pointing out that while DeSantis did close down beaches in Broward County and Palm Beach County, he should have closed Florida beaches statewide.
The editorial implies that DeSantis is worried about offending President Donald Trump.
“DeSantis must step up, whether he ticks off his benefactor Trump or not,” the Herald’s editorial board stresses. “He must add his voice to the bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers and insist Florida get those ‘vital medical supplies, equipment and personnel required to protect healthcare professionals, treat patients and combat the spread of COVID-19.’ Otherwise, he’s as derelict as the president.”