In the spring, New York City was the coronavirus epicenter of the United States, but now, Sun Belt states are the ones being hit especially hard by the pandemic — including Florida. And the South Florida Sun Sentinel, in an editorial published on July 29, pleads with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to do more to combat the health emergency Floridians are facing.
“With each passing day, COVID-19 continues to careen out of control in Florida,” the Sun Sentinel’s editorial board warns. “A record 216 deaths were reported Wednesday (July 29). That broke the previous record of 191 deaths, reported just Tuesday.”
DeSantis, a far-right ally of President Donald Trump, has drawn widespread criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic — from being much too fast to reopen non-essential businesses in his state to not doing more to encourage Floridians to wear protective face masks. In its editorial, the Sun Sentinel tells DeSantis, “Help us all out. Far better that you require people to wear masks in public than to continue fostering conditions that will force another shutdown. Your refusal to impose a mask order — a requirement now in effect in 32 other states — is out-of-touch with the mainstream. A new Quinnipiac poll found 79% of Floridians support a mask requirement, including 60% of Republicans. If that’s not a mandate, what is?”
According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the worldwide death count from coronavirus had reached 668,500 as of early Thursday afternoon, July 30 — and that included more than 151,000 deaths in the U.S., where some states are seriously concerned about people coming in from Florida.
The Sun Sentinel explains, “At least 12 states have singled out Floridians for 14-day quarantines should we dare to fly north to escape the heat and whatever lurks in the air. Who can blame them? Florida now boasts the second highest number of cases per 100,000 people, with 2008. That’s more than New York, at 1690; Illinois, 1365; Texas, 1345; and California, 1164. Florida is second only to New Jersey with 2018.”
The publication concludes its editorial by urging DeSantis to do a lot more to encourage the use of face masks.
“A lot has been learned about the coronavirus over the course of these five long months, including this: when it comes to masks, asking nicely doesn’t always work,” the Sentinel tells DeSantis. “The science is clear: face coverings reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and can save lives. Issue a mask mandate, governor. If you can wear one in public, so can we all.”