On March 22, the Miami Herald editorial board slammed Governor Ron DeSantis’s poor response to the coronavirus crisis. The Herald laid bare DeSantis’s ineffective response to the health care emergency and the economic crisis that has resulted from the pandemic.
The Herald echoed criticism from the Florida Democratic Party of DeSantis for mocking the health crisis by giving Speaker Jose Oliva a baseball bat that read “slayer of the healthcare industrial complex” and called on DeSantis to tackle the abysmally low amount of unemployment assistance in Florida that maxes out at a mere $275 a week.
Excerpt from the Miami Herald editorial Coronavirus is killing us in Florida, Gov. DeSantis. Act like you give a damn:
With Florida’s economy crashing under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis is working overtime to preserve our status as the world’s leading exporter of political comedy.
Friday, DeSantis mounted the bully pulpit to present House Speaker Jose Oliva, with a baseball bat inscribed with the words “Slayer of the healthcare industrial complex.”
It was a sophomoric bit of messaging on any day. It was inexcusably tone-deaf when the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Florida topped 500. At least 10 people had died since the crisis began.
Unfortunately, DeSantis, who despite trying to appear large and in charge in front of the microphone and TV cameras delivering coronavirus updates, has been a timid leader in the face of the growing scourge — and growing number of deaths — from the disease in his state. By Saturday, the number of confirmed cases had exceeded 700. At least two more people had died bring the state total to at least 12. The governor announced that he was thinking about isolation shelters for people with confirmed COVID-19 or symptoms. Again, no details, no idea when it could happen.
DeSantis must step up, whether he ticks off his benefactor Trump or not. He must add his voice to the bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers and insist Florida get those “vital medical supplies, equipment, and personnel required to protect healthcare professionals, treat patients and combat the spread of COVID-19.” Otherwise, he’s as derelict as the president.
He must spearhead a plan to help the abruptly out-of-work. DeSantis made a decent start by eliminating the requirement that people seeking unemployment benefits must actively be looking for a job. Now, he must raise the abysmally low payment rate. In Florida, unemployment can reach a measly maximum of $275 per week, for anywhere between 12 to 23 weeks. In high-cost South Florida, that’s a joke. In fact, according to FileUnemployment.org, Florida is almost rock bottom in what it pays for unemployment insurance compensation. Only Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona and Mississippi, which pays the lowest at $235, keep Florida from complete embarrassment.
There are nearly 400,000 people employed in Florida hotels and businesses that support the hotel industry who are out of a job, according to data released by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. That number will soar when those employed in just about every other industry hard hit by coronavirus closures lose their jobs, too.