Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was the focus of an in-depth Washington Post exposé examining why Florida is failing at coronavirus.
"As Florida became a global epicenter of the coronavirus, Gov. Ron DeSantis held one meeting this month with his top public health official, Scott Rivkees, according to the governor's schedule. His health department has sidelined scientists, halting briefings last month with disease specialists and telling the experts there was not sufficient personnel from the state to continue participating," the newspaper reported.
The newspaper interviewed scores of sources for the story.
"As the virus spread out of control in Florida, decision-making became increasingly shaped by politics and divorced from scientific evidence according to interviews with 64 current and former state and administration officials, health administrators, epidemiologists, political operatives and hospital executives. The crisis in Florida, these observers say, has revealed the shortcomings of a response built on shifting metrics, influenced by a small group of advisers and tethered at every stage to the Trump administration, which has no unified plan for addressing the national health emergency but has pushed for states to reopen," The Post explained.
DeSantis has largely ignored experts.
"DeSantis relies primarily on the advice of his wife, Casey, a former television reporter and host, and his chief of staff, Shane Strum, a former hospital executive, according to Republican political operatives, including a former member of his administration," the newspaper noted.
The approach has resulted in widespread destruction.
"The response — which DeSantis boasted weeks ago was among the best in the nation — has quickly sunk Florida into a deadly morass. Nearly 5,800 Floridians have now died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus — more deaths than were suffered in combat by Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq after 2001. One out of every 52 Floridians has been infected with the virus. The state's intensive care units are being pushed to the brink, with some over capacity. Florida's unemployment system is overwhelmed, and its tourism industry is a shambles," the newspaper reported.
Trump, however, praised DeSantis in a statement.
“Ron DeSantis is doing a great job and will go down in history as a great governor of Florida,” Trump claimed.
Read the full report.