DeSantis and his political allies demand credit for Florida​’​s decrease in COVID cases — there’s just one problem

DeSantis and his political allies demand credit for Florida​’​s decrease in COVID cases — there’s just one problem
Ron DeSantis speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Gage Skidmore

Now that Florida ranks among the lowest states in per capita COVID cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is taking his victory lap as his political allies demand he be vindicated for months of scrutiny about his handling of the virus. However, Washington Post senior reporter Aaron Blake notes there's a major problem with the praise of DeSantis' leadership.

Although Florida's per capita is comparaively low at the moment, Blake detailed how this occurrence is cyclical:

"The whole thing is reminiscent of the first time all this happened. Early in the pandemic, with Florida still yet to be hard-hit, a May 2020 National Review headline read, "Where Does Ron DeSantis Go to Get His Apology?" Within a couple weeks of that headline, cases in Florida began surging. Less than two months later, Florida registered the most per capita current cases of any state."

Because of that, Blake explained why its ridiculous for DeSantis to boast when cases are low.

"The point of referencing Florida's spikes is not that it's handling of the coronavirus has been the worst," Blake wrote. "The point is that these things are cyclical, and spiking the football when cases are low — even the lowest — is a ridiculous enterprise. That goes especially, as Philip Bump detailed following DeSantis's recent comments, when Florida just came off one of the worst outbreaks in the history of the pandemic and has more often than not been worse off than the rest of the country."

Blake offered a brief assessment that further explains why Florida's "boom-to-bust cycle," described as a period where "many of the biggest spikes in states have been followed by some of the biggest drop," isn't some rare phenomenon. In fact, it appears to have happened in multiple states already.

Per Blake's assessment:

  • North Dakota had the worst spike in November 2020, but by February had the lowest rate.
  • Michigan had the worst outbreak this spring. By July, it was effectively tied for the lowest case rate in the country.
  • New Jersey had the highest case rate in early spring, but it had about the lowest rate for a time in mid-May.
  • Arizona had the highest spike in January. By late March, it was registering almost at the bottom.
  • When Florida was peaking this summer, Louisiana was often neck-and-neck with it and usually slightly worse off. It has since been competing with Florida and some others for bottom spot (currently ranking 46th).
  • South Carolina had the highest case rate in late winter but was clustered at the bottom by the start of summer.
Despite DeSantis' claims, there are many factors that contributed to the declining numbers. One factor, in particular, is states' ability to vaccinate residents and better handle cases surges.
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