Jan 3, 2022 - Politics

Ron DeSantis under pressure as Florida breaks its COVID case record

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters and members of the media after a bill signing on Nov. 18, 2021, in Brandon.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after a bill signing on Nov. 18, 2021. Photo: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File

As coronavirus cases surge in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis' absence in public and the press has been a source of national debate.

What's happening: While Florida broke its single-day COVID-19 record with 75,900 cases on New Year's Eve, DeSantis had made one public appearance in the prior two weeks — a Fox News spot, per Florida Politics.

  • While rumors circulated on DeSantis' whereabouts, his office told Fox that the governor was accompanying his wife, Casey, to cancer treatments.
  • DeSantis finally made an appearance at a New Year's Eve celebration at a Christian concert in Miami, not addressing the COVID spike but telling the crowd, "I'm glad we're going to be able to celebrate the new year in the freest state of the United States."

Why it matters: His media presence isn't the concern. It's his lack of responses to critics like Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who are both asking DeSantis to make testing more accessible and push for more booster shots in nursing homes.

  • The Associated Press reported that three people collapsed while waiting in line at a testing site in Tampa on Friday morning.

Between the lines: Even during past COVID spikes, DeSantis has usually been quick with retorts to criticism. Now that the holidays are over and cases are rising, critics will be watching his response to officials calling for more tests and shots.

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