What did DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske have to say when gloating over the announcement that fines were about to be levied? She offered a very Trumpy “Promises made, promises kept.”
If that promise is that DeSantis will do everything possible to promote his profile to the ragged edge of Trump-supporting extremists who are willing to see children get sick rather than require decent public health practices … then yes, that promise was definitely kept.
The absolute proof that the fines against COVID-19 are a triumph of politics over public health can be found on the Department of Health’s web site.
These are the requirements for a child entering daycare:
- Diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP)
- Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV)
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13)
- Hepatitis B (Hep B)
Students progressing through the grades are required to have multiple doses of vaccines. In addition, teachers must be regularly tested for tuberculosis, and these tests can be extended to students if there is a positive case in the community.
COVID-19 vaccines are currently available to every teacher, every staff member, and to every student over the age of 12. Every high school, college, and university in Florida could—should—require vaccination for all of the above. Because that would not just save lives at those schools, it would also help to slow the spread of the virus in the broader community. In addition, it would simply make good business sense, as it would help the schools avoid situations where they were forced to shut down after outbreaks sidelined teachers and students—something that has been happening repeatedly. As The Miami Herald reported on Friday, two more districts in the northern part of Florida shut down when teachers, food workers, and bus drivers were all caught up in a “worsening spread” of COVID-19.
Florida continues to be the first or second state in the nation when it comes to new cases of COVID-19. Despite how the state has changed reporting of deaths to make it seem that improvement is always underway, it’s clear that Florida is actually logging record numbers of COVID-19 deaths each day. Schools are closing. Children are dying.
Despite a court ruling that DeSantis’ blocking school mask mandates is an unconstitutional overreach of his power, DeSantis is both challenging that ruling in court and going ahead with blocking funds to schools that require masks. Now DeSantis is fining schools and private businesses if they ask for proof of vaccination.
There are only possible reasons for this:
- Ron DeSantis is promoting the spread of COVID-19 because he feels that destroying sound public health practices is beneficial to his political career, no matter the cost in lives or health.
- Ron DeSantis is promoting the spread of COVID-19 because he enjoys seeing people suffer and die.
Which one of these is worse is open to debate. The objective results of DeSantis policies are not.
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