Gov. DeSantis on vaccine mandates: Florida wants to ‘protect all the jobs’
Florida has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the country. They did it without vaccine mandates, without mask mandates in school and with no restrictions on businesses. Life simply went on.
Over the summer, when Florida was experiencing a spike in cases, the media was wall-to-wall news about the numbers. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was a frequent target for the blame. His sensible moves, such as not forcing low-risk kids to wear masks, was treated as akin to murder by the media.
In August, President Biden criticized DeSantis, although not by name, saying: “Some state officials are passing laws that forbid people from doing the right thing. I say to the governors, please help. If you’re not going to help, get out of the way of the people that are trying to do the right thing.”
But what DeSantis understood is that there is no absolute “right thing” where COVID-19 is concerned, that we are living in an endemic (no longer a pandemic thanks to vaccines) and that there is very little political action that can be implemented to stop it. At the time of Florida’s spike, the state had an above-average vaccination rate when compared with the rest of the country. They weren’t doing anything differently than places with lower case rates, they were simply at the peak of their seasonal spike.
Florida is doing better in per-capita cases and deaths from COVID than states that put in universal mask mandates and lockdowns. But you won’t hear that from the media. Now that DeSantis’ strategy has worked, they have quietly moved on without acknowledging their predictions of doom were wrong.
It’s a lesson that we need to quickly learn. Encouraging vaccination is important, but ultimately COVID will be something we need to handle with less hysteria going forward, and DeSantis has been a model for that.
It’s not just the US, either. Countries like Singapore and Australia, which had previously pursued a “COVID zero” strategy, have recently announced they will be moving away from the idea that it’s possible to eradicate COVID.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently said: “We need to update our mindsets. We should respect COVID-19, but we must not be paralyzed by fear . . . With vaccinations, COVID has become a treatable, mild disease for most of us.”
This is the sane way forward, and DeSantis has been leading the way with a similar message for over a year now.
The targeting of DeSantis is, of course, political. Widely considered the front-runner for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, DeSantis will continue to be a bull’s-eye for Democrats. But he’s shown again and again that he puts Floridians first and doesn’t listen to outside pressure to conform.
Along with his new surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, DeSantis is making data-driven decisions instead of impulsive ones made out of misplaced fear. In New York last month, for example, Gov. Kathy Hochul put 2-year-olds back in masks despite all data showing that was unnecessary. In New York City, we’re about to lose sanitation workers, police officers and firefighters over the vaccine mandate despite the fact that a vaccine mandate has not been shown to reduce COVID-19 cases.
Florida has shown the time for lockdowns and mask mandates is over. When will the rest of the country learn?