As of Friday, Florida hospitals had been treating some 17,000 COVID-19 sufferers, together with greater than 3,550 in intensive care, in response to tallies by the Washington Post. The necessity for oxygen to deal with sufferers has change into so dire in some areas that Orlando officers implored residents Friday to preserve water in an effort to protect the liquid oxygen utilized in water therapy.
On the identical time, heated disputes over masking in faculties are erupting as kids return to highschool and thousands of students and staff have already been compelled to both isolate or quarantine. DeSantis himself helped stoke the masks fury by banning college districts from requiring common masking—the one accessible line of protection for teenagers beneath 12 and too younger to get the vaccine. When some college districts revolted by issuing masks mandates anyway, DeSantis threatened to dock the pay of college officers who carried out mandates. No less than 5 of Florida’s 67 college districts have now defied DeSantis’ ban, together with the state’s largest and second largest districts, Miami-Dade and Broward.
Whereas his state convulses with chaos, anxiousness, sickness, and loss of life, DeSantis is fortunately preening and punishing for the cameras.
On Friday, DeSantis’ handpicked Board of Education announced college officers in Broward and Alachua counties—two of the primary to implement masks mandates—would lose their salaries except they reversed their masking coverage within the subsequent couple days. The risk very effectively might not shake their resolve, as both President Biden and citizen activists have pledged to make up for any shortfall in funding.
Politically, taking punitive motion towards college districts that mandate masks is an abysmal transfer, with just 22% of Americans supporting the thought. However what’s a GOP 2024 hopeful to care when Fox Information is salivating to provide him primetime slots at the same time as he ensures COVID-19 will inflict maximal injury on his constituents. In actual fact, a lengthy investigative report by the Tampa Bay Instances discovered that DeSantis had scheduled extra conferences with Fox’s Sean Hannity within the first half of 2021 than along with his personal lieutenant governor. In the meantime, the governor has didn’t schedule even a single one-on-one assembly this yr with Surgeon Common Scott Rivkees, the state’s high public well being official, in response to the Tampa Bay Instances piece.
DeSantis clearly has the Fox sweepstakes tied up and subsequently nothing else issues to him, not even anguish and loss of life in his state. It is a dodgy political guess for a man who beat his Democratic challenger in 2018 by lower than half some extent, 49.6% – 49.2%, and Democrats are desperate to capitalize on it.
Two Democratic candidates for governor, Rep. Charlie Crist (who’s additionally the state’s former governor) and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, have been ripping DeSantis’ handling of the surge. This week, Crist launched a “5 determine” statewide advert purchase together with two counties that carried out masks mandates.
“Florida leads the nation in new Covid instances, jammed hospitals and deaths,” Crist says in the ad. “And now Ron DeSantis desires to defund faculties the place they’re asking children to put on a masks.”
This week, political journalists spent an inordinate period of time flogging President Biden for the chaotic and tragic scenes streaming out of Afghanistan. The shortly evolving humanitarian disaster there and large U.S. evacuation effort is a crucial story, little doubt. However amongst reporters favourite issues to do was to play a clip of Biden claiming a number of weeks in the past there was “no circumstance” by which folks can be airlifted off a U.S. embassy as they had been in Saigon on the finish of Vietnam. “It’s not in any respect comparable,” Biden insisted in an early July press convention. Then journalists would instantly lower to the anguished crowds in Kabul on the Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport.
Originally of this week, I argued the subsequent a number of weeks of reports out of Afghanistan may very well be brutal for Biden politically however that Democrats should stay focused on the president’s home agenda because it may doubtless be among the many most consequential points in 2022.
The story in Afghanistan is way from over and it is unimaginable to know at this level the way it will finish and what narratives will in the end prevail in voters’ minds. The difficulty will nearly actually be litigated within the 2024 presidential race, however greater than doubtless subsequent yr’s midterms can be dominated by the pandemic and economic-related issues.
In necessary swing states like Arizona and Florida—the place governors’ intentionally put children in hurt’s method to rating political factors—their abysmal pandemic insurance policies will get high billing. Floridians can get able to see loads of adverts with DeSantis declaring, “We have succeeded” and celebrating victories for “freedom” towards a backdrop of raucous college board conferences, rising coronavirus infections, and youngsters engulfed in a maze of tubes in Florida ICUs. In actual fact, a fast assessment of the digital entrance pages of reports retailers in South Florida, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville reveals not a single story about Afghanistan. All however one among them led with a pandemic associated story (tropical storm Henri received high billing within the Orlando Sentinel), they usually all included at the least one story impugning DeSantis, comparable to, “Ron DeSantis’ colossal COVID-19 gamble: faculties, vaccinations, masks—and his political future” or “Florida’s COVID deaths climb as kids lead state in positivity charge.”
DeSantis is not solely a wicked narcissist, he appears to have forgotten the pandemic took down Donald Trump, who additionally received so hopped up on Fox Information bluster that he assumed he was politically invincible.