Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R., responded to media criticism he was missing in action in December as the omicron variant swept through both the Sunshine State and the nation at large.
“I guess I should’ve been at the beach in Delaware, right, and then they woulda been really happy with that,” DeSantis quipped in an apparent reference to President Biden’s recent trip to his home state of Delaware where cameramen captured him walking his dog along Rehoboth Beach. The president was mocked online for wearing a mask during the outdoor stroll, with critics calling it an “absurd” bit of theater. Others said the president was again sending mixed messaging about the use of masks, considering the times he went without one while mingling with members of the public.
DeSantis said Monday that just because he wasn’t in front of the cameras every day in December doesn’t mean he and his team weren’t working behind the scenes on a plan to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’ve actually put out the schedule and these people didn’t know that,” the governor continued. “They think because you’re not doing a big press conference you’re not doing it.”
The governor’s team shared the same sentiment after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said over the weekend that Floridians should be “outraged” DeSantis wasn’t being more transparent and getting in front of the cameras.
“Just FYI, @GovRonDeSantis is not on vacation,” Kyle Lamb, a member of DeSantis’ communications team, tweeted. “Literally no one from our office has said that he is. Anyone pushing that could have easily seen the public schedule and seen that he’s taking calls and meetings this past week. Not having public events does not = “vacation.”
The governor’s press appearance came a day after Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber accused him of helping usher in more COVID-19 variants by turning the pandemic “political.”
“He has made this a wedge issue,” Gelber said on CNN. “And in a health care crisis, when you make something a wedge issue, and you divide the public so that half the public does one thing and half the public does the other, you get what we’re getting right now, which is variants still coming, people still getting sick, and this disease still with us.”
The Miami Herald recently ran a scathing op-ed suggesting that DeSantis’s “selfishness” and alleged attempt to turn the pandemic “political” led to the omicron outbreak in Florida.
“Omicron is what happens when we act selfishly and reject that we’re interconnected with the rest of the world in our common humanity,” columnist Fabiola Santiago wrote. “The me, me, me attitude only heightens our vulnerability to disease.”
Yet while Democrats and much of the liberal media have hammered DeSantis on his handling of the pandemic in his state, they have largely given passes to blue states dealing with their own coronavirus surges. CNN’s Jim Acosta suggested the delta variant be renamed the “DeSantis variant” last year, but was much more neutral when reporting on the rise in cases in New York last month.