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DeSantis Faces COVID-19 Response Criticism; Fla. Republicans Back Trump's Legal Action

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

COVID-19 numbers are, once again, on the rise across Florida. This week, more than 5,000 Floridians received positive test results every day — the highest numbers since early August.

Some Floridians are criticizing Gov DeSantis’s “herd immunity” strategy to fight the virus, as the Miami Herald reported this week. Critics worry that allowing the virus to spread until most Floridians have been infected and cases slow down will result in thousands of needless deaths, amidst the current spike in cases.

DeSantis aims to prioritize protecting the most vulnerable, pointing out that while infections are on the rise, the death toll has been falling. DeSantis also casts doubt on how some COVID-19 deaths are being classified as such. 

Meanwhile, Florida hospitals are approaching capacity, with four out of five beds occupied. In more than 3,000 of those beds are COVID-19 patients. Local governments are limited in responding as DeSantis has banned municipalities from closing businesses or enforcing mask mandates.

The Safety Net Hospital Alliance for Florida advocates for the state’s 14 safety net hospital systems located in Florida’s most densely populated areas. They aim to support patients diagnosed with COVID-19 by prioritizing patients over profits.

Our guest was the CEO of Safety Net Hospital Alliance of FloridaJustin Senior.

Criticism of DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic extends to his choice of a data analyst, a sports blogger and Uber driver, Kyle Lamb, of Columbus, Ohio. Lamb is paid $40,000 a year to work for Florida’s Office of Policy and Budget. He is underqualified for the job and has spread internet conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

Elected Democrats are calling for DeSantis to fire Lamb, who came under scrutiny after Florida COVID-19 death certificates were leaked to a conservative blogger before being released to researchers and journalists. In response, the governor’s office claims Lamb was not hired due to COVID-19.

Mary Ellen Klas, Capital Bureau Chief pf the Miami Herald, joined us on the program to discuss the rise in cases and DeSantis’ response.

Florida Republicans Support Trump's Legal Action

No statewide elected Republican in Florida has acknowledged Joe Biden as the president-elect of the U.S. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, now out of public office, is the most prominent Florida Republican to do so.

Meanwhile, President Trump continues to file lawsuits with no evidence of widespread voter fraud, as he publicly alleges. Courts have rejected almost all of these suits. DeSantis appeared on Fox News after Election Day urging viewers to donate to Trump’s legal relief fund. He also called on Pennsylvanians and Michiganders to contact their state legislators to encourage an override of the popular vote.

Meanwhile, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, along with nine other Republican state attorneys general, have filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in Trump's case challenging Pennsylvania's absentee voter ballot mail-in deadline

Florida’s election results will be certified on Tuesday.

Katherine Hobbs was Associate Producer of talk shows at WJCT until 2022.