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TALLAHASSEE, Florida, April 16, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he regrets ever shutting down his state, calling lockdowns a “huge mistake.”
“We wanted to mitigate the damage. Now, in hindsight, the 15 days to slow the spread and the 30 — it didn’t work,” DeSantis told the Epoch Times. “We shouldn’t have gone down that road.”
The governor had issued a 30-day stay-at-home order more lenient than most, with exceptions made for religious services and recreational activities, as well as “broadly defined” essential businesses.
“Our economy kept going,” DeSantis said. “It was much different than what you saw in some of those lockdown states.”
After the stay-at-home order, DeSantis phased in a reopening of the state, even as he was berated by lockdown proponents for his policies. Florida was fully reopened by Sept. 25, 2020, and DeSantis stood firm even as COVID-19 cases rose during the winter.
DeSantis argued not only that lockdowns are ineffective, but that they inflict devastating damage to the economy and to people’s well-being, both mental and physical.
The governor said during a February press conference that the “result” of lockdowns has been “the destruction of millions of lives across America, as well as increased deaths from suicide, substance abuse, and despair, without any corresponding benefit in COVID mortality.”
“It’s been a huge, huge mistake in terms of policy,” DeSantis told the Epoch Times. “All I had to do was follow the data and just be willing to go forward into the teeth of the narrative and fight the media.”
“As people were beating up on me, what I said was I’d rather them beat up on me than have someone lose their job. I’d rather have them beat up on me than have kids locked out of school. I’m totally willing to take whatever heat comes our way because we’re doing the right thing.”
DeSantis’s policies have since been vindicated by Florida’s health numbers, by the state of its economy, and by the deep gratitude of Floridians whose businesses and livelihoods have been saved thanks to DeSantis.
Despite the fact that Florida’s population is the sixth oldest in the United States by median age, and that people over 55 account for 93 percent of COVID-19 deaths nationwide, Florida ranks 27th in the country for COVID-19 deaths per capita.
The state’s unemployment rate, as of early April 2021, is at 4.7 percent, compared to 6.2 percent nationally.
The full import of those numbers is revealed by the heartfelt words of Floridians, including business owners, who DeSantis said sometimes get emotional when they meet him.
According to the Epoch Times, “Several of the interactions with the governor at the Clay County Fair resembled that description. [A] visibly moved elderly veteran urged the governor to not ‘let them roll over us.’”
“I have a tough time paying for a meal in Florida just because I saved a lot of these restaurants from oblivion,” DeSantis said. The Epoch Times reported that “[h]ours after this claim, a curly fries stand at the fair declined to charge the governor.”
“If we hadn’t stood up, these people may not have jobs, the businesses may have gone under, the kids wouldn’t be in school, there’d be all these things,” DeSantis said. “This really, really impacts people in a very personal way.
DeSantis’s freedom policy and thriving state provides a telling contrast to Ontario, Canada, which has been particularly heavy-handed in its use of lockdowns since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ontario’s most recent stay-at-home order closed non-essential retail stores, and continues to restrict church attendance and deny Canadians the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter.
The order comes as excess deaths due to indirect consequences of the pandemic, such as drug overdoses and missed medical treatments, continue to skyrocket. These have prompted a group of emergency and intensive care physicians to write to Premier Doug Ford “calling for immediate and decisive action to ease the burden on hospitals.”
The physical and mental toll that the lockdowns have been taking on Canadians have led to the formation of the non-partisan “End the Lockdowns National Caucus.”
“After careful examination and scrutiny of mitigation measures undertaken by all levels of government, it is now evident that the lockdowns cause more harm than the virus and must be brought to an end,” a position statement of the group reads.
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) reported in January how it’s seeing a “disturbing trend” of babies coming to the hospital with “fractures and head trauma” in the wake of COVID-related lockdowns across Ontario and Quebec. “In my 16 years at CHEO, I have never seen this many infants with serious maltreatment injuries,” said Dr. Michelle Ward, pediatrician and Medical Director for Child and Youth Protection at CHEO, in a Jan. 29 press release.
“This is a war on freedoms,” Randy Hillier, an independent Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), told LifeSiteNews in a telephone interview.
“They want people to throw away their freedoms, throw away the things that are important to them, throw away family, throw away faith, throw away and discard all the essential components of human dignity, and they want to isolate and confine people,” he said.