Fla. Congresswoman: Governor’s Delay of Stay at Home Order ‘Absolutely’ Did Cost Lives

Fla. Congresswoman: Governor’s Delay of Stay at Home Order ‘Absolutely’ Did Cost Lives


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, issued a 30-day stay at home order this Wednesday, as part of a national effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, but by waiting this long into the pandemic to issue the order “absolutely” cost lives, according to Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla).

“It absolutely did. It’s tragic. I don’t know why people run for office if they’re not willing to make hard decisions,” said Shalala, who served as secretary of health and human services during the Clinton administration. “And our governor delayed and delayed until he waited for the president of the United States to pick up the phone and call him. This is about saving lives. And he has a responsibility in Florida to save lives and he diddled and daddled, and our mayors took stronger stands than he did, but he had a responsibility.

“And even when he put out the order, he left the gun shops open and he told people they could go to religious services. No one in south Florida believes that you should go to church,” Shalala added in an on-air TV interview. “In fact, our bishop of the Catholic Church has said, ‘We’ll do virtual church.’ So, again, he’s fine-tuned the decision in a way in which people are going to still be exposed. We need strong governors across the country.”

There have been more than 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. The virus has killed more than 53,000.

In the United States, there have been 245,442 reported cases of COVID-19, with 6,099 deaths, according to the most recent figures.

The Sunshine State already has the fifth most confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States.

The state will have to prepare for an even greater surge, particularly given its large population of senior citizens, Shalala acknowledged.

“We’re going to have a tremendous spike in Florida, but not just seniors. People that have underlying conditions. As we test more people, as more people unfortunately and tragically die, we’re finding not just the senior population, but people that have underlying health conditions of all ages,” she said. “And our testing, by the way, is picking up people of all ages, not just seniors. But certainly, we need to target our resources at those that are the most vulnerable. And that’s what we’re trying to do to the extent we can get resources, but that’s where the governor needs to be strong.

“Apparently he has a special relationship with the president. He’s getting some resources, but we don’t have enough and we still have health care workers that are at risk,” Shalala added.

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