'Money over lives': Daytona Beach newspaper slams Ron DeSantis for valuing 'political ambitions' over public health

'Money over lives': Daytona Beach newspaper slams Ron DeSantis for valuing 'political ambitions' over public health

Not all Republican governors have downplayed the severity of COVID-19 or worked against public health measures such as vaccinations, protective face masks or social distancing measures. Maryland's Larry Hogan, Vermont's Phil Scott and Massachusetts' Charlie Baker have demonstrated that they take the pandemic seriously. But many health professionals have slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for having an abysmal track record during the pandemic, and a blistering editorial by the Daytona Beach News-Journal's editorial board slams DeSantis for failing his state so badly during the current Delta variant surge.

In the editorial, published on August 9, the News-Journal's editorial board laments, "Listen to Gov. Ron DeSantis' own description of his pandemic-driven priorities, and you'll get this message: It's money over lives. He intends to keep Florida's economy humming, even as hospital intensive-care units fill up with patients. More patients than ever before, in fact. Younger than those in previous waves. The number of deaths has also started to climb."

The editorial board continues, "But we've stopped buying the governor's rationale. It seems obvious that his own personal ambitions — magnified by the vocal but diminishing crowd of supporters who have made a political cause of minimizing COVID's impacts and belittling scientists — are in control. And that explains a lot."

DeSantis, according to the News-Journal's editorial board, is not motivated by a concern for public safety, but by "his own naked hunger for higher political office." And that includes his recent executive order banning public school districts from having mask requirements for students.

"From July 23-29, Florida reported 10,785 new COVID infections in school-aged children," the News-Journal's editorial board observes. "(On) July 30, DeSantis issued an order citing a parent's 'right to choose' to send them to school without masks. Districts that defied him were threatened with loss of funding. Some school boards — including Alachua, Duval and Broward districts — have enacted mask mandates anyway for the first few weeks of school. We hope other local school officials will follow suit and honor Florida parents' most important right: to know their children are safe."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five new COVID-19 infections in the United States is in Florida — and DeSantis' response to this grim news, according to the News-Journal's editorial board, has been an embarrassment.

"DeSantis should have exhibited some concern, especially after President Joe Biden called him and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott out for their lack of response to spiking numbers," the News-Journal's editorial board stresses. "Instead, DeSantis offered a disjointed stream of snapbacks, including a surly statement that he didn't want to 'hear a blip about COVID' from Biden, and accusing the president of trying to 'commandeer the rights and freedoms of Floridians.'"

The Daytona Beach writers conclude their editorial by warning that DeSantis' actions will hurt Florida not only from a health standpoint, but also, economically.

"DeSantis says he's protecting the economy: money over lives," the News-Journal's editorial board observes. "But as things regress in Florida, an even more brutal equation emerges — one that puts DeSantis' political ambitions above Florida's health and its economy. We've said this before, and it bears repeating: God help us. Because the governor won't."

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