April 17, 2024

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Media Ignore Florida Covid Recovery

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Journalists credited Gavin Newsom for a similar turnaround but won’t stop vilifying Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis Early Treatmens

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St. Petersburg, Fla.

Florida went from having the country’s highest rate of Covid infections to the lowest in about two months. Does the turnaround illustrate that infection rates are cyclical and often affected by weather? Is Florida’s infection rate lower than in states with significantly higher vaccination rates and mandates? Are those policies futile or counterproductive? Are Floridians now close to herd immunity?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, in part because journalists are less interested in asking them than in bashing Gov. Ron DeSantis.

An Oct. 25 New York Times article on declining Covid cases nationwide failed to mention Florida, the state with the country’s most dramatic improvement. Instead, the paper’s David Leonhardt emphasized that Republicans have lower vaccination rates than Democrats. Recent coverage of declining Covid rates in the Washington Post and CNN also failed to mention Florida’s turnaround. The CNN story made a point of noting that “White evangelical Protestants were among the least likely adults to get vaccinated.”

Bloomberg’s Timothy O’Brien penned an Oct. 26 “analysis” piece that accused Mr. DeSantis of “replacing sound public policy-making with political theatrics in the Covid-19 era” but ignored the improvement in Covid numbers. MSNBC injected race into an Oct. 25 hit piece headlined “Like Trump, DeSantis uses a Black face to mask his Covid failures.” The author, Ja’han Jones, disparaged Florida’s Nigeria-born surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, as “a reliable tool used in support of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ dangerously poor pandemic response.” (Dr. Ladapo has written about Covid for these pages.)

Yahoo News at least nodded to reality, publishing a piece with the headline “Florida now has America’s lowest COVID rate. Does Ron DeSantis deserve credit?” “The answer is no,” wrote Andrew Romano, the site’s West Coast correspondent, who is based in Los Angeles, not Tampa. “The virus we’ve known for some time, comes in waves—waves that ascend, peak and ultimately recede on a remarkably consistent timeline.”

Tell that to ABC News, which on Oct. 24 informed its website’s readers that California Gov. Gavin Newsom “managed to flip the script as the former epicenter of the pandemic” with “forward-thinking” policies that included “some of the strictest mask and vaccination mandates in the country.”

I moved to Florida from Oregon in 2019, and I’m grateful to live in a state where personal freedom is still respected. I’m vulnerable to infection because I have two autoimmune diseases, and I got vaccinated in March. But I support Mr. DeSantis’s approach because we can’t live in fear forever, and it’s wrong to force our children to do so.

CNN published an Oct. 25 opinion piece by New York University’s Ruth Ben Ghiat, author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.” She asserts without irony that Mr. DeSantis is imitating “the tyrannical Donald Trump” because the governor has “insisted on public health policies, like opposing mask and vaccine mandates, that have contributed to mass death in Florida.” In the brave new world of today’s media, a tyrant is a politician who leaves you alone.

Mr. Seminara is a former diplomat and author of “Footsteps of Federer: A Fan’s Pilgrimage Across 7 Swiss Cantons in 10 Acts.”

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