- WASHINGTON EXAMINER - OCT 20, 2021 -
Late this summer, COVID-19 finally took off in Florida and began ravaging its elderly population, courtesy of the delta variant. Some people were very pleased about it.
Critics of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis were positively gleeful. They had been waiting a very long time for data that would finally back up their case against him — that for avoiding severe restrictions for the first 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic, DeSantis was some kind of mass murderer.
They are curiously quiet now that the Sunshine State’s rate of hospitalizations has plummeted 75% from its mid-August high, and its seven-day average death toll is down more than 50% from its mid-September high. But the bigger problem for their argument is that DeSantis began “reopening” his state in June 2020 and finally lifted all COVID-19 restrictions as of September 2020. He left the beaches and most businesses open the whole time. He never mandated masks. So if that course of action were the cause of what’s happening now, then why did the effect wait so long? The timeline makes no sense.
The much more likely and unfortunately frightening explanation is that, as in 2020, Florida has experienced the worst during the summer, when Floridians take refuge indoors. Under that theory, northern states’ delta infections, already on the rise, are destined to hit just as hard as winter sets in.
When COVID-19 struck in spring 2020, DeSantis was hotly criticized for failing to close down the state’s beaches — you know, those big open outdoor spaces where Floridians can easily distance themselves from others and breathe fresh air without fear of contracting a virus.
At that time, none of the doomsayers’ predictions of an unusual surge in COVID-19 cases or deaths resulted from this decision. In fact, Florida’s experience with COVID-19 remained unremarkable among the states right into 2021.
It seemed quite fortunate, in fact, that a state with such a large elderly population should be spared in comparison to other states.
Florida’s spike in cases came in much later, with the delta variant. Hospitalizations peaked in mid-August at 12 for every 100,000. Deaths peaked in late September at more than 400.
Fortunately, Florida’s rate of COVID-19 hospitalization has plunged to just 3 for every 100,000 and is now lower than Delaware’s (9 per 100,000), Pennsylvania’s (6), Maryland’s (4), and Virginia’s (4), among others. Florida’s hospitalization rate is now roughly equal to that of California, Oregon, and Georgia. Its seven-day average death rate, still high at 211, is off more than 50% from its peak and appears to be trailing the hospitalization numbers downward.
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