JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is not mincing words.
In a recent statement, Fried said Gov. Ron DeSantis had lost control of Florida’s COVID-19 response.
“If the spike and record-breaking numbers aren’t proof enough, his policies are simply not working and he’s recklessly reopening Florida despite the data screaming for caution. Refusing to acknowledge the alarming patterns in cases, hospitalizations, and positivity is not only arrogant, but will cost lives, public health, and our economy,” Fried said.
On The Morning Show on Tuesday, Fried said time is running out to get the virus under control.
“If we don’t get this under control now we are really going to have some issues and of course, you guys in Jacksonville have the RNC coming at the end of August,” Fried said. “And so now we’re not only putting the citizens of our state at risk but the 50,000 plus individuals that will be traveling to Jacksonville. Which you know of course it’s great for our economic boost but it will cost, you know it’s at the cost of the lives of those who attend and those in the surrounding areas in Duval County.”
Fried said it’s not just testing responsible for the rise in cases. People are not social distancing and the clock is ticking and time is running out to avert a catastrophe. She said Florida needs to do more to prevent further spread but politics is getting in the way.
“Yeah, I think that’s probably one of the most heartbreaking aspects to this, is really how this has become a partisan divide,” said Fried. “And the Governor, as probably most people know at this point, and I don’t talk. We haven’t had communication since the pandemic started. I tried reaching out to him on numerous occasions and to his Chief of Staff.”
“I was left off of the task force of reopening and in fact last week the Florida Congressional Democratic caucus wrote a similar letter to the Governor asking for a meeting because they too have been unable to get anybody inside of the office,” Fried added.
DeSantis held a press conference in Juno Beach on Tuesday to sign a bill and defended the state’s COVID-19 response.
“In March, I mean, there was hardly any testing capacity nationwide. We have robust testing, everyone that goes into a hospital now,” DeSantis said. “You get tested someone’s going to give birth, they get tested. Anyone that needs has the ability to get tested. So, that’s a really, really significant thing that infrastructure has been built in hospitals have a lot of capacity which is very significant.”
DeSantis also pointed to an increased emphasis on long-term care facilities in the state.
According to data released Tuesday morning by the Florida Department of Health, the state has now reported 152,434 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
Florida’s string of record or near-record days of additional coronavirus cases was broken Monday. But with 6,093 additional cases reported Tuesday morning, the state has seen daily increases of over 5,000 cases for seven straight days.
DeSantis was asked Tuesday if he planned to roll back restrictions and possibly return to Phase 1.
“We’re not going back closing things,” he said. “I don’t think that that really is what’s driving [the recent spike]. I mean, people going into businesses is not was driving it. I think when you see the younger folks, I think a lot of it is more just social interactions and so that’s natural, obviously, you had a lot of different activities going on in different parts of the state.”
Fried worries that unless things change the state’s hospitals will be overrun and hospital beds will fill with demand from people suffering traditional medical ailments and increasing cases brought on by complications from COVID-19, especially ICU beds. Fried said that could happen in a fairly short amount of time unless the state takes further action and quickly.