Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an off-the-rails press conference Monday, dismissing COVID-19 vaccines and testing, downplaying the severity of symptoms of the omicron variant, and whining and complaining about how the federal government isn’t giving him the monoclonal treatment meds he’s convinced he needs. Seriously, it was bonkers.
Since late December, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat who is running against DeSantis, has begged the governor to do something with the staggering number of unused COVID-19 tests sitting in a warehouse before they expire.
DeSantis’ office continued to deny their existence and accused Fried of lying. Well … today, there was a different story.
Thursday, COVID’s ride-or-die was forced to admit via his Division of Emergency Management director, Kevin Guthrie, that “between 800,000 and a million expired test kits were found in a warehouse.”
These newly discovered testing kits come as the state is suffering under a tidal wave of COVID-19 cases and lines have been hours long for testing in the last two weeks.
Fried said Wednesday she believes the tests have been secretly stockpiled by the state’s executive branch of government.
“This is definitely something we have concrete information coming from inside the governor’s office,” Fried told NBC-2, adding: “It may not be his executive suite but certainly the different agencies he oversees but there is a stockpile of these tests either to expire Dec. 31 or soon thereafter.”
NBC-2 reporter Dave Elias told Fried in that same interview that when he reached out to the governor’s office, DeSantis’ press secretary called Fried’s allegations “bizarre.”
“It’s not a bizarre allegation when I know it to be true. We’ve not alleged that the governor’s office has them. It’s the agencies he controls,” Fried said.
Referring to DeSantis’ presser Monday, Elias tells Fried, “the governor believes people are hysterically running out to get tested.”
Fried gave an emergency press conference Thursday and ripped into the DeSantis administration.
“The reality is, this governor is not fit to serve. He should have known that this stockpile of tests could have been distributed throughout the state,” Fried said. She added: “This isn’t just a dereliction of responsibility, but a complete failure of this governor.”
Fried said the governor and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo have tried to push “less tests,” because she said, “less tests means less cases and less people who feel he’s not done his job.”
In stark contrast to DeSantis, Fried advocated the use of testing, masks, vaccines, and booster shots. She ended her presser by apologizing to the people of Florida for DeSantis’ ineptitude.
On Tuesday, DeSantis again harmed his own state by claiming that those without symptoms of the virus need not get tested at all.
“A lot of those tests aren’t a good use of testing," DeSantis said in a news conference Tuesday. "Testing really needs to be focused on the people who have clinical symptoms.”
Florida has had an average of over 59,000 COVID cases per day for the past week, 4.42 million cases total, since the start of the pandemic, and 65,542 deaths, according to The New York Times.
But DeSantis and his completely incompetent surgeon general have continued to rail against testing and vaccines and talk up monoclonal antibody (mAb) drugs for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19.
The truth is, we don’t even know whether or not the governor is himself vaccinated, much less received a booster.
It’s no wonder he showed up Wednesday, seeming like he was sick and short of breath during a press conference.
According to CNN, the closest he got to admitting his status was in a December interview with Fox News in which he said: “So, I've done, whatever I did. The normal shot. And that at the end of the day is peoples' individual decisions about what they want to do."
Monday, Politico's Gary Fineout asked a DeSantis spokeswoman whether DeSantis has taken the booster. "I am not privy to the governor's private medical decisions and am unable to share information about his booster status," Christina Pushaw said, adding: "Governor DeSantis has consistently said that vaccination (and by extension, boosters) should be a personal choice, and anyone who has questions or concerns should consult with a health care provider."