MIAMI — In an episode reminiscent of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s infamous flight to Cancún as his state grappled with one of the worst environmental disasters in decades, Gov. Ron DeSantis is missing in action as Floridians struggle with a recurrent public health crisis.
The Omicron COVID-19 variant has spread throughout Florida like no variant before in the 22-month-long pandemic. Since December 10, the seven-day case average has grown consecutively, from 1,700 to 30,356. The state has recently reported numerous daily record-breaking number of cases, including a recently reported 46,923, which is the largest single-day increase of cases since the pandemic began and nearly double the previous peak during the summer, and total cases have surpassed four million.
This surge has created an understandable rush among Floridians to get tested during the holiday period, but the demand for tests has strained state and local resources to nearly the breaking point.
We are seeing long lines at testing centers that can last up to six hours and begin forming late into the night as Floridians hope to avoid the long waits in the morning. Some sites have had to close midday after running out of tests, and getting an at-home test has been difficult as supplies run short. Compounding the crisis, the state government refuses to open testing sites that were shut down by DeSantis in May, leaving local governments on their own when it comes to guidance and resources.
And the situation is expected to worsen. University of Florida researchers predict that COVID cases in Florida will reach 40,000 a day in Florida by February, around 75 percent higher than what was seen during the last peak of cases.
So where is Ron DeSantis?
He recently made headlines after he reportedly ordered the Department of Health to pull ads that promoted vaccination from the Florida airwaves, replacing them with others that did not mention vaccines. One of his last public appearances was on Fox News, where he refused to disclose if had received a booster shot.
His last public briefing on the worsening public health crisis in Florida was on December 17. Since then, he has been completely missing in action, with his social media team resorting to posting old photos of him at random Florida restaurants to try to keep an appearance of normality as the state’s chief executive continues to be absent when he is supposed to be leading.
ICYMI: @GovRonDeSantis 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 Biden for going to Rehoboth Beach all week, right?
— Christina Pushaw ?? (@ChristinaPushaw) December 30, 2021
DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw said his absence is due to the Governor being on vacation. While we all deserve time off from work and with our families, it’s completely unacceptable for the Governor to just disappear as millions of Floridians look to him for leadership and resources during a crisis.
This is not the first time he has done this either. After the 2020 presidential election, DeSantis also disappeared from public view and avoided questions from reporters about Trump’s continued refusal to accept his electoral defeat.
Floridians don’t need a governor who is only interested in running for president. We need someone who will take his responsibilities seriously and get the job done. Unfortunately for us, DeSantis has repeatedly failed to meet the moment.
Thomas Kennedy is a Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. Twitter: @tomaskenn