Gov. DeSantis' MAGA gathering may usher in Florida's next big COVID-19 outbreak: experts

Gov. DeSantis' MAGA gathering may usher in Florida's next big COVID-19 outbreak: experts
Gage Skidmore.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis along with the state's Republican leaders are at the center of criticism following a maskless event in the backyard of the governor's mansion.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, DeSantis and other Republicans hosted a gathering for more than 50 of the party's grassroots organizers, according to The Daily Beast. Photos of the event, captured by Florida Republican Party Vice-Chairman Christian Ziegler, showed DeSantis at a small podium facing a crowd of elderly attendees huddled close together while very few wore masks.

With the photo, Ziegler boasted about the governor having the pandemic under control despite the state's high number of coronavirus cases. "Florida is in great hands and everyone in this photo is going to work like hell to crush whomever runs against him in order to keep it going," Ziegler proclaimed.

On Sunday, another Republican official also shared the same photo from the event with a message that read, "It's gonna be fun working for him and crushing the Socialists in Florida."

State Sen. Joe Gruters also took to Twitter with a photo and two-minute video clip from the event. With the photo, he tweeted, "Thank you Governor [Gov. Ron DeSantis] for loving freedom and liberty and for all of your help in delivering record success this cycle here in Florida."

During the video, DeSantis could be heard telling the crowd, "in Florida, people can have the confidence that this [election] was done above board and done right," DeSantis crowed. "We don't wait three weeks to then change the winner with vote dumps and all this other stuff that you are seeing go around."

As media circulated on social media, health experts criticized the governor and the state's Republican leaders for their reckless actions. Based on the photos and the predominant age group of most attendees, health experts are projecting a possible COVID outbreak from the event in the very near future.

Florida legislator Rep. Anna Eskamani spoke out with her concerns about the event. "The photos demonstrated how reckless our governor is acting in enabling the spread of COVID-19," Eskamani told the publication. "He is not modeling good behavior and is taking his role for granted. It's completely discouraging."

Dr. Jill Roberts, an infectious disease expert and professor at the University of South Florida, also criticized the governor's actions. "Unfortunately this event contradicts the advice of public health experts in a large number of ways," Roberts also said. "This event may have needlessly exposed people to coronavirus."

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