At the time DeSantis was making his remarks describing Florida as “God’s waiting room” the state Covid count stood at 31,500 cases. Today that number is 1,560,186 according to the Miami Herald, although there has been some controversy regarding the reporting of the Covid numbers by the state.
The state’s top data scientist, Rebekah Jones, was removed from her position with the Florida Department of Health in May of 2020. Desantis defends her dismissal in this NPR article. Jones continues to question the reporting of Covid cases in Florida and tells her side of the story including her efforts to continue publishing what she believes to be more accurate statistics and her eventual arrest by officers of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in an interview with Florida Today.
In a potentially larger scandal than the ousting and arrest of a top data scientist for her efforts to inform the public, the vaccine roll out in Florida has been tentative at best. While the Governor’s office claims that there is no connection between Publix’s $100,000 donation to DeSantis’ campaign a month ago and that same company being chosen to partner with the state on vaccine distribution, there can be no denying that the eight counties chosen for the initial distribution of the vaccine were all solidly red counties in the November 2020 election.
Those counties, Marion, Citrus, Hernando, Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Bay and Walton named in this Indy Star article all voted decidedly Republican. It’s possible that the Governor did not award a lucrative contract to a favored corporate donor but it seems undeniable that Desantis is attempting to shore up his base ahead of his 2022 bid for reelection.