As Florida makes national headlines for a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis has effectively been AWOL, spending his time visiting the Texas-Mexico border and mocking Dr. Anthony Fauci over his "first pitch" at a baseball game last year.
On Tuesday, the Orlando Sentinel's editorial board ripped into DeSantis for his inaction, in an editorial titled "We're begging you, Gov. DeSantis, stop messing in Texas and save Florida from COVID."
The editorial notes that instead of visiting hospitals, consulting with public health experts, or planning vaccine strategy, DeSantis "was in Texas, 1,000 miles from Tallahassee, burnishing his 2024 presidential ambitions with a visit to the southern border." "
When he returned, DeSantis delivered a speech to the right-wing group Turning Point USA in Tampa.
"Fauci gets invited to throw out the first pitch at the baseball game last year but he doesn't know how to throw a baseball," DeSantis said during the speech, encouraging people to buy his campaign's anti-Fauci merchandise. "He did the worst first pitch that I've ever seen anybody do."
"Always classy, our governor," the editorial board wrote, before delving into statistics that show Florida "has become the poster child (except perhaps for Arkansas) for the surging number of COVID cases attributed to the wildly contagious Delta variant."
Meanwhile, the state's vaccination rate lags, even as DeSantis whines about "experts" calling people who are vaccine-hesitant "stupid."
"To save lives, he must start acting like Florida's governor and less like he's auditioning for Turning Point USA or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or whatever Fox News host comes calling," the newspaper wrote. "At the moment, it's as if DeSantis has washed his hands of the matter and moved on to elections, borders, critical race theory, mocking Fauci or whatever else will get him a headline."