It is easy to tell who terrifies the media and Democrats. Governor Ron DeSantis has bucked the conventional wisdom of the health bureaucracy on COVID-19 since last summer. He continues to do so despite a Delta variant surge in Florida. Recently, I recommended five actions red-state governors can take to exit Covidstan for good. DeSantis is hitting on all cylinders.
On some actions, DeSantis acted ahead of the curve. On May 3 he signed landmark legislation regarding vaccine passports and other restrictions:
“Over the last year we’ve avoided protracted lockdowns and school closures in Florida because I have refused to take the same approach as other lockdown Governors. This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision. I’d like to thank President Simpson, Speaker Sprowls and the Florida Legislature for getting this legislation got across the finish line.”
DeSantis encouraged personal choice regarding vaccines and protected small businesses from government overreach. He also ran a robust vaccination campaign. Following a focused protection model, he vaccinated the elderly first. To make getting the vaccine easy, Florida utilized government-run vaccination sites, mobile vans, chain pharmacies, and grocery stores with pharmacies. Nevertheless, the media accused him of granting political favors to Publix when the chain began vaccinating.
That narrative was batted down effectively by both Republican and Democrat leaders in Florida. As of today, 71.5 % of Floridians 18 and older have received at least one dose, which is similar to the rate for the United States and large Democrat-run states. To hear the media, you would think DeSantis was out campaigning against the vaccine like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Despite an above-average vaccination rate, Florida is experiencing a spike in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant. A similar increase is being seen all over the southeast. Several Republican governors have refused to institute mask mandates and insist on them being optional in school. The only ones the media and Democrats attack are DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott—because they are desperate to turn one of these large states blue.
DeSantis remains unapologetic and keeps moving the ball forward to exit Covidstan. I recommended that governors begin managing COVID-19 as they do every other respiratory virus. Alberta, Canada, has moved in this direction to ensure that the public health system is prepared to care for anyone who falls ill. It is nice to see that Florida has taken down its dashboard. Known grifter Rebekah Jones runs the one that is still available. The Florida Department of Health is now issuing a weekly report instead.
DeSantis also made another important announcement. He is launching mobile monoclonal antibody units to provide these infusions early and outpatient to high-risk patients. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) strongly encourages this treatment, and the NIH recommends it. It’s weird that we never hear Dr. Anthony Fauci or Dr. Rochelle Walensky talk about it. DeSantis is the first governor I have seen develop a statewide approach to the delivery of this therapy.
DeSantis is still weathering criticism for his coordinated attempt to save lives. Here is one particularly stupid take:
Ron DeSantis offering up Monoclonal antibodies that cost federal government $2,100/dose in lieu of vaccines that cost $39 dollars/full series.
— (((Howard Forman))) (@thehowie) August 12, 2021
The treatment is being surged to the at-risk elderly, according to DeSantis’s announcement. Florida has vaccinated 85% of residents over the age of 65. The U.S. has fully vaccinated 80.6% of that population. Asserting that DeSantis is surging the antibodies to the unvaccinated is absurd.
Howard Forman’s criticism makes no sense. DeSantis has effectively rolled out vaccines among the elderly and is providing an HHS-sponsored treatment via statewide distribution. The governor has traveled statewide encouraging Floridians to get vaccinated and recommends they do so in almost every public appearance. With the trillions the government has already spent, the cost argument is ridiculous.
To date, all the data points to success in disconnecting COVID-19 cases from deaths. With focused vaccination of high-risk Americans and improvements in treatment, fewer patients are dying. DeSantis continues a focused-protection approach by ensuring that a recommended outpatient treatment is available to those most likely to need it. This initiative could reduce hospitalization rates in high-risk patients, benefiting everyone.
Once again, Florida is ahead of the curve. I hope DeSantis takes my last recommendation: When positive tests decline, an antibody seroprevalence study in Florida would be very insightful. India reported 68% after its first significant wave, and the United Kingdom found 90% after its third wave. The United States has not done a similar study at this point. Let’s see if Florida takes the lead once again.
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