An op-ed published by the Miami Herald on Christmas Eve ripped Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and appeared to blame him for the omicron variant outbreak in the state.
“Last lesson of 2021, Florida: Omicron happens when we act selfishly, like Gov. DeSantis,” says the piece by columnist Fabiola Santiago.
The writer went on to suggest that rising infection rates are also due to Floridians “giddily taking risks,” and as such, there has been a resumption of COVID-19 testing lines that take hours as well as a rise in deaths, a Miami Herald analysis claimed.
Santiago specifically laid the blame for the surge at the feet of the GOP governor, ripping him for not leading the state with “sensible policies” or proper guidance for people who “most need to hear an endorsement of science over quackery from him – the politically reticent to the vaccine.”
She also wrote that DeSantis is “busy peddling treatment over prevention” while he allegedly continues to lie about Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom Santiago says is the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases. That said, she cast more aspersions at the governor, claiming that his problem with Fauci is just a political distraction from his personal agenda.
“The governor [is]… governing with such authoritarianism that he comes perilously close to Fascism with every move,” Santiago wrote. “So many of us wish he would put politics aside, at least for the coronavirus.”
Continuing, she said that even the easily-transmitted omicron variant has not had an impact on how “vaccine-stagnant, mask-rejecting” Floridians have approached the pandemic, behavior she described as being as “contagious as the virus.”
“We should all be used to this by now, but who’s going to listen to common sense when the state’s top leader isn’t engaged in prevention — more than 62,300 coronavirus deaths later?” she asked. “Most probably, only the same science-driven crowd that has vaccinated and boosted up.”
The columnist then noted how the GOP governor and potential 2024 presidential contender won’t tell the media whether he’s gotten a COVID-19 vaccine booster since former President Donald Trump, a Florida resident, was booed at an even in the state when he admitted to Bill O’Reilly that he had gotten a vaccine (Trump is 75).
Santiago went on to brush aside the fact that omicron symptoms in the vast majority of cases are mild to call out Americans who would rather have “freedom of choice” to remain unvaccinated.
“Omicron is what happens when we act selfishly and reject that we’re interconnected with the rest of the world in our common humanity,” she said. “The me, me, me attitude only heightens our vulnerability to disease.”
To wrap up her piece, Santiago framed the variant as the final lesson of the year while telling Americans they should “heed it, and wear the holiday smile behind the mask.”
“And don’t forget to celebrate,” she said. “If you’re reading this, it’s because you’re still here.”
The media has regularly taken shots at DeSantis throughout the pandemic for his ‘less is more’ policy approach — choosing to let Floridians map out their own path forward while making vaccines and other treatments widely available and first concentrating on the state’s large retirement population.
“At the end of the day in Florida, Floridians know we will not let anybody lock them down. We will not let anyone take their jobs,” DeSantis noted recently on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“We will not let anyone ruin their businesses, and we will not let anyone close their schools, so people are going to be able to live life. They’re going to be able to make their own decisions,” he added.
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