“I saw the Flynn comments and thought they were outrageous,” Ballard said. “If Ron DeSantis is not within the four corners of being a conservative, I don’t know what is.”
“There is so much disinformation that it’s literally crazy and killing people,” he added.
Yet DeSantis’ strategy so far also has the governor running afoul of some local governments and public health officials, who appreciate DeSantis’ pro-vaccination rhetoric but continue to lament what they say is a lack of urgency to tackle the virus.
Officials in Palm Beach on Monday announced that they would require people to wear masks inside city buildings or on town property regardless of vaccination status. This follows California’s move on Monday to soon require state and health care staffers to provide proof that they’ve been vaccinated. DeSantis banned such “vaccine passports” in Florida.
Health officials, meanwhile, are also pressing the governor to provide more assistance to frontline health care workers.
“Our city emergency leaders now have daily meetings with hospitals, and while our city and fellow hospitals are all in tune to the ongoing emergency and working to help each other, we’re not getting the level of support from the state we were previously in the pandemic when the Covid burden was much lower,” said Chad Neilsen, the Infection Prevention Director at University of Florida Health in Jacksonville.
He said the state needs to restart releasing daily Covid-19 testing data, which ended in January, and again declare Florida under a public health emergency, which lapsed on June 26.
“By declaring a [public health emergency], activities can then be authorized to help support essential services and functions in response to the emergency,” Nielsen said. “This may be emergency funds to help pay for staffing, or equipment, activation of certain support offices, and can even open up availability to federal support.”
Pushaw, however, said calls for a renewed public health emergency are misguided.
“People are entitled to their own opinions, but there is an unfortunate tendency among some of the governor’s critics to demand ‘a state of emergency’ on different issues without any indication of what, concretely, they believe such a declaration would accomplish,” she said.