I initially believed the national media narrative in March that Ron DeSantis was asleep at the switch in Florida and responded late. But it turns out that while we were all focused on crowded beaches, DeSantis had already zeroed in on where the virus was most likely to be, i.e. nursing homes.
On March 15, 2020, as the national and local media blasted DeSantis for his refusal to close beaches, Florida’s Governor was issuing an important order two months sooner than St. Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York who can do no wrong in the eyes of the media. On March 15, DeSantis ordered all seniors in elder care facilities who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 to be moved to facilities other than their nursing homes. New York’s Governor was still sending infected patients to nursing homes last week.
In heavily tourist Orlando, the outbreak did not spread out of control as media fear-induced reporting prognosticated. In fact, the only major hotspot in the state is the Miami-Dade area where the data from the New York Times shows many New York residents fled and spread the virus. While the media quibbles over whether to call COVID-19 the “Wuhan virus,” in Florida it could more accurately be referred to as the New York virus, or the Cuomo coronavirus.
DeSantis even, without media attention, had his team survey Florida to find areas of high foot travel concentration and low automotive travel due to poverty, age, and other issues. He then set up walk-up field testing centers in those areas so residents could walk up for tests instead of relying on public transportation or other vehicles. That did not get national coverage either.
On April 19, 2020, to howls from the national press, Duval County, Florida in the state’s northeast corner reopened beaches. The hashtag #FloridaMorons trended on social media and got picked up by the Washington Post. At the time, Duval County, Florida, which is the Jacksonville area, had only 30 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals out of a million-person population. The press missed all that in favor of outrage coverage.