A sharp reduction in Florida's COVID-19 cases appears to be of little interest to the mainstream media and critics who previously vilified GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis for his response to the pandemic.
New infections per 100,000 Florida residents dropped to 12 during the past week, according to The New York Times coronavirus tracker. Cases dropped by 48% in the state over the past 14 days.
DeSantis was criticized by Democrats and the media for loosening pandemic restrictions ahead of other state leaders, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.
Other states with far more extreme pandemic restrictions are seeing COVID-19 continue to spread faster than Florida.
The rate of new cases in New York, for example, is more than double that of Florida's at 25 per 100,000 residents over the past week.
The rate of new infections per 100,000 Washington state residents was at 31 during the past week.
DeSantis allowed businesses to reopen, with some limits, in early May 2020, just two months after the virus virtually shut down the entire country.
By September of last year, Florida had lifted all restrictions and began efforts to limit new ones that local governments could impose.
Renewed criticism of DeSantis emerged due to a spike in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the delta variant late this summer. Still, the governor and potential 2024 Republican presidential contender declined to implement pandemic-related mandates statewide. He even actively tried to stop any Florida entity from adopting them on their own.
"It's a right-wing approach, and it's just a page out of [former President Donald] Trump's playbook," J. Edwin Benton, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, told the Examiner.
"He's doing it to mimic what Trump would still be doing and did do prior to being voted out of office."
The Examiner said that some sectors of New York, including healthcare workers and New York City school personnel, have faced vaccine mandates that have not reduced COVID-19 infections to the level currently seen in Florida.
State employees in Washington, with nearly three times the number of new COVID-19 infections than Florida this past week, faced a deadline Monday to take the vaccine or lose their jobs.
Late last week, DeSantis said Florida would challenge Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate on employers and workers in federal court and through legislation.
"Let's not have Biden come in and effectively take away — threaten to take away — the jobs of people who have been working hard throughout this entire pandemic," DeSantis said during a news conference. "I am offended that a police officer could potentially lose their job."
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