‘Begging you’: Florida newspaper pleads with DeSantis to ‘save people from suffering’ instead of 'tweeting about pythons'
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis poses with a python. (screen grab)

One of Florida's largest newspapers ripped into Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday for "tweeting about pythons" as the Sunshine State runs out of ICU beds and medical staff amid a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Noting that DeSantis is a "prolific tweeter," the Orlando Sentinel's editorial board pleaded with the governor to use the platform to encourage people to get vaccinated.

The newspaper noted that DeSantis has tweeted 130 times during the state's latest COVID surge, with only one post mentioning COVID-19 vaccines — and it was to brag that Florida "has protected the vulnerable by vaccinating the older population."

Rather than encouraging people to get vaccinated, DeSantis has tweeted about things like the protests in Cuba, the Texas border, the death of longtime FSU football coach Bobby Bowden, and the state's annual python hunt — twice.

"That's two more times than he posted about the crush of COVID patients pushing the limits of Florida's hospital system," the editorial board wrote. "Two more times than he posted to console the hundreds of families who lost loved ones during this summer's COVID outbreak. And two more times than he posted a plea for his fellow Floridians to get vaccinated to spare themselves, their families and their neighbors from COVID's worst consequences."

In fact, DeSantis has been downplaying vaccines, choosing to focus promote monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 produced by Regeneron. On Wednesday, the Sentinel reported that DeSantis' top political donor owns $16 million in Regeneron stock.

"We can't say if that connection has anything to do with DeSantis' heightened interest in monoclonal antibody treatments," the board wrote. "But we can say that the governor's failure to loudly and consistently promote the best shot we have to getting through this pandemic — vaccines — amounts to a dereliction of duty."

Along with Regeneron, DeSantis has been focused on punishing school districts for imposing mask mandates to keep children safe, and suing cruise lines over vaccine passports.

"The crisis in Florida that he's neglecting deepens with every day that passes. We don't understand why the governor can't see that, unless he's made a political calculation that downplaying vaccines will serve his political aims," the editorial board wrote. "Please, governor, go back to the playbook you had last spring when you barnstormed the state to get older Floridians vaccinated. Help us get through this crisis. Use the power of your bully pulpit — including your Twitter account — to save people from suffering by getting the COVID vaccine."

Read the full editorial here.