Op-Ed: Florida governor claims the state is again 'open for business'

Posted Sep 26, 2020 by Karen Graham
On Friday, and totally unannounced, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered the total reopening of all restaurants and businesses, a decision that's been met with backlash as the coronavirus continues to spread statewide.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has come under fire for his handling of the public health response to ...
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has come under fire for his handling of the public health response to COVID-19
“The state of Florida is probably the most open big state in the country,” DeSantis bragged Friday, reports Politico, as he announced the reopening and said he was using his executive power to cancel all fines levied against people who didn’t wear masks. “We’re not closing anything going forward.”
Oh yes, DeSantis had quite a week - one that has left local officials and state epidemiologists in a quandry over how they can adjust their strategies to contain the virus going forward in a state where pandemic responses have become intertwined with the upcoming presidential election.
Business Insider notes that DeSantis, a major ally of President Donald Trump, has been pushing to get the state reopened because Florida's economy is so dependent on tourism. When the pandemic first hit the state in March, the governor refused to close any of the state's beaches.
Politically - it all has to do with the governor falling all over himself in trying to please Trump. At a rally in Florida this week, Trump coined a new campaign phrase that was met with great applause by his adoring fans: “Normal life. O! I love normal life. We want to get back to normal life.”
"We’ll fully resume. The Florida tourism and hospitality industries will reach record highs,” Trump said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Next year will be one of the greatest years.”
But the governor's actions on Friday was just the icing on the cake - especially after a week of headline-grabbing announcements – from a crackdown on rioters to protections for college kids partying during a pandemic. And all this activity coincided with the first batch of absentee ballots being mailed out to Florida voters.
Florida is considered a battleground state and the electorate is hotly divided on their choice for president. However, like Trump, DeSantis has seen a drop in his popularity due to his actions, or lack of action on controlling the coronavirus. A July voter poll showed DeSantis' popularity had dropped from 62 percent last year to 49 percent in July.
Of the over 14,000 COVID-19 deaths in Florida, to date, the state is also al leader in the number of people infected with the coronavirus - with more than 695,000 people. On Friday, Florida added 2,874 new cases.
The Florida Democratic Party’s chairwoman, Terri Rizzo, accused Trump and DeSantis of ignoring science, issuing bad messages during a pandemic and presiding over an “unmitigated disaster.”
“We all desperately want things to return back to normal, but that can't happen when DeSantis and Trump have no plan to get us out of this public health crisis," Rizzo said.
Hmm, it does make one wonder how a place can be open for business when everyone is sick and a lot of people are dead.