TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida is pressuring China to pick up some of the costs of the coronavirus pandemic because of the country’s failure to contain the outbreak.
Missouri and Mississippi filed suit against China last week, blaming the country for the coronavirus outbreak. Now, Florida’s leaders are considering taking legal action.
“I saw that Missouri lawsuit," Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “I want to see if Florida can be involved in that. You see what a disaster this has caused. It is because of their malevolence, so they had opportunities to deal with this. They didn’t do it — they covered it up.”
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has already sent the Chinese ambassador what he calls a demand letter. “We’re going to see losses in the state’s revenue that should cross the billion dollar mark,” he said.
Patronis also may stop state payments to Chinese vendors doing business with the state.
"These are direct effects and losses to the state’s revenues due to a virus that did not originate inside the state of Florida, nor in the United States,” he said.
While a long shot, a lawsuit could reduce the impact on state services that may need to be cut because of falling revenue. In addition to lawsuits, the Florida Legislature may act the next time it convenes.
Another potential avenue for recourse could be to order the state to divest $4.6 billion the state pension fund has invested in Chinese companies.
The governor is also pitching medical companies to relocate their Chinese production here.
“For gosh sakes, it you have lifesaving equipment that is being manufactured, do not manufacture it in China anymore," DeSantis said. “We need to bring this stuff back to the United States.”
Some officials say consumers can fight back as well by buying fewer products from China.