Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted as ‘MIA’ by Florida Democrats as COVID-19 cases surge

The Republican governor, who's up for reelection in 2022, has not made a public appearance in Florida since Dec. 17.

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Democratic officials in Florida are calling out Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for being missing in action amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in his state.

According to reports, Florida has shattered its record for new coronavirus cases, and DeSantis, an outspoken opponent of President Joe Biden and his administration’s handling of the pandemic, appears to have gone silent during his state’s recent surge.

In November, DeSantis signed multiple bills into law to curtail vaccine and mask mandates. Florida Democrats have since accused him of not doing enough to help combat the rise of the omicron variant of COVID-19, according to NBC News

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is under fire by Democrats in his state for being missing in action amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said counties with sites conducting coronavirus testing have yet to receive funding amid the holidays.

“We have not received any assistance from the state of Florida at our testing sites,” Demings, a Democrat, said Tuesday. “Our residents, all Florida residents, should be outraged and they should ask the question, ‘Where is our state? Where is our governor? Where is Ron DeSantis now?’”

“Counties are overwhelmed w/ lines that stretch for miles,” Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones tweeted Thursday, referring to COVID testing sites. “It’s every man/woman for themselves, because leadership is MIA,” he added.

DeSantis, who is running for reelection in 2022, has not made a public appearance since a Dec. 17 news conference, according to Florida Politics. Since he was last seen, the number of coronavirus cases in the Sunshine State has skyrocketed — including a record of over 58,000 new cases on Wednesday.

“He signed into law legislation that effectively prohibited local governments from being able to take charge and lead in our fight against Covid-19,” said Demings, who has called on DeSantis to step up his response efforts to the pandemic.

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, who is running for governor as a Democrat, told MSNBC that DeSantis “canceled our Cabinet meeting in the middle of December” and “I haven’t seen him since Dec. 17. I don’t know where he is.”

“Local counties and state commissioners are having to stand up testing sites,” Fried said. “We have five hour lines in Miami-Dade county, and he’s nowhere to be found.”

Meanwhile, the governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, tweeted Thursday that DeSantis has “a wife and 3 kids ages 1-5, and it’s not surprising if he wants to take a few days off at Christmas to spend time with his family, especially as his wife is battling cancer. I don’t criticize (President Joe) Biden for going to Rehoboth Beach all week, right?”

Pushaw told The Washington Post on Thursday that most of the new cases in the state are linked to the omicron variant, and many of the new infections are “asymptomatic or mild.” 

In Florida, 63% of the population is fully vaccinated, while more than 4,400 people in the state are hospitalized with COVID-19, per the report.

Pushaw noted that “the percentage of cases requiring hospitalization as of now is lower overall than we saw with previous variants.”

According to The Associated Press, most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. So-called breakthrough infections can occur in those vaccinated, and though the vast majority of those cause mild or no symptoms, the research shows they can carry about the same amount of the coronavirus as those who did not get the shots.

This article contains additional reporting from The Associated Press.

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