He had everything to lose and nothing to gain by standing for liberty, balance and prudence, the Constitution, and long-standing epidemiological science in the third-largest state in the nation. It also happens to be the state with the most senior citizens at risk. He could have declared himself king of his state, as so many other governors have done, and would have received accolades instead of visceral derision from the national and local media for doing so. His approval ratings could have skyrocketed like those of Gov. Cuomo in New York. Yet he allowed his approval rating to tank because he stood on the right side of history. Can anyone say Ron DeSantis for president in 2024?
It started with the pictures of the students on spring break at the Florida beaches, where people from all over the country were likely to spread the disease everywhere, according to the media – never mind the ironclad research showing little to no outdoor transmission. “Coronavirus is killing us in Florida, Gov. DeSantis. Act like you give a damn,” read an editorial from the Miami Herald on Mach 22.
They said DeSantis was killing his state’s people by not issuing a stay-at home order early enough and never issuing a full lockdown against church services and other activities. Then, on May 4, he decided to end even the tepid lockdown. Last in, first out. What are the results?
Despite the fact that Florida is the haven for those most susceptible to the virus, the elderly, the state’s numbers beat almost every comparable state.
Daily fatalities also plunged after he ended the stay-at-home order on May 4.
Florida never had a disproportionate surge from locking down late and then enjoyed a sharp drop in hospitalizations after opening up – much more than most other states.
Also, the number of patients on ventilators dropped by 55%:
The data are so compelling that now the media are trying to insinuate that DeSantis is cooking the books. They can’t seem to believe in simple science that lockdowns don’t work and that there is no outdoor transmission on beaches. Now they are just denying the data. DeSantis had some choice words for them.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 20, 2020
DeSantis mentions an important point so many forget. His state was the top destination of wealthy New Yorkers fleeing the hardest-hit state and coming to Florida. Yet, rather than violate people’s rights and shut down the entire state, DeSantis used his head and struck the right balance. Most importantly, he focused on securing the nursing homes, the exact opposite of what the celebrated Andrew Cuomo did when he purposely sent COVID-positive patients into nursing homes to kill everyone else there. While 45% of total deaths in Florida were in nursing homes (lower than the national average), the raw numbers were way down for a state this size and shockingly low considering the nursing home population of Florida.
There were more deaths in almost every individual borough of NYC than in the entire state of Florida. Also, Florida has 4.4 million people above the age of 65. Queens has just 322,000 – thirteen times less – yet had nearly three times as many deaths. Now consider that Cuomo is a hero to the media – even after the nursing home scandal – while DeSantis is treated like dirt.
While it wasn’t as cool and heroic as locking up every healthy person with near-zero risk in their homes, DeSantis quietly barred hospitals from sending COVID-positive patients to nursing homes – the exact opposite of what Cuomo and many Democrat governors did. He also used the National Guard to secure nursing homes rather than to spy on people.
In New Jersey, 51 senior care residents out of every 100,000 people died. In New York, nearly 27 per 100,000 have died. Even in smaller and younger Colorado, more than 10 nursing home residents have died per capita. In Florida? Just 3.5 per 100,000. In the state of “God’s waiting room,” just .008% of the population died of COVID-19.
DeSantis was even pressured by the White House to go along with the flat-earth lockdown science. But he understood that the threat of the virus is limited to a known population and that outdoor transmission is negligible. So he put his resources where they were needed.
Interestingly enough, rather than shut down all road construction, as nearly every other state did, DeSantis stepped on the gas pedal and took advantage of the low levels of traffic to build more highways than ever, so as not to inconvenience people later on. This is the sort of “policy entrepreneurship” he promised on my podcast two years ago when he was in Congress running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
What is really going on in the media is the use of coronavirus as a pretext for what can only be described as the utter despotism of lockdowns. This is the new flat-earth science. Just as with the political leaders during the time of Galileo, you are not allowed to believe in basic science when the simple facts refute the established line of thinking. Thus, all precautions must be taken to burn down anyone who questions the orthodoxy or demonstrates its folly.
What made George Washington a great statesman was not the way he projected power but the way he abdicated power when he could have abused it without any opposition. Ron DeSantis came into this crisis with one of the highest approval ratings and could have ridden the wave with everyone else and enjoyed even more power. But he trusted Floridians to exercise prudence in self-government and refused to violate their rights. That is the mark of a statesman.
As Mark Twain said, “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.”
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.