Ron DeSantis, the scandal-ridden Republican governor of Florida who’s been derided near and far for his breathtakingly terrible response to the COVID-19 outbreak as it pertains to his own state, is in deep water once again after he’s seemingly been discovered to have covered up deaths in senior facilities due to the coronavirus.
An exposé from the Miami Herald shed some light on what the paper found to be the obfuscation of numbers related to nursing home deaths, even as the governor claimed his administration was practicing the kind of transparency that is surely necessary for every local government if we are to defeat this pandemic:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis often has been unwilling or unable to provide crucial information about its coronavirus response — and at times has actively tried to shield critical details about the depths of the crisis from becoming public.”
That’s a damning statement, but the reasoning behind it is typical Republican web-spinning — the Herald attempted to get information about coronavirus deaths from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office multiple times, only to be rebuffed with a “confidentiality” argument. Attorneys for the MDME actively tried to legally block the release of any of those documents.
The Herald notes that the secrecy has not been limited to that agency, either:
In recent weeks, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration has refused to name the nursing homes experiencing coronavirus outbreaks, even as the number of cases in longterm care facilities has passed 1,300. The Department of Corrections had until Wednesday declined to acknowledge two inmate COVID-19 deaths at a privately run prison. And the Department of Health has been unwilling to disclose the extent of an undefined backlog of unresolved coronavirus tests at private labs.”
DeSantis, of course, oversees all of these agencies in Florida. He has tried to minimize the importance of his secrecy about locations and the number of deaths that have occurred by publicly announcing “strike team” testing by the National Guard at the state’s nursing homes — but continues to ignore questions about which nursing homes those might be.
Information on which nursing homes have been affected could prove crucial as it did in Washington state, where one Life Care Center facility in Kirkland, WA was the site of at least 37 deaths from the deadly virus. State officials used virus tracking to find out sources of the infection as well as where the virus traveled after visitors to the facility had come to see loved ones and then returned home.
Like Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis is simply hiding the numbers that could make him look bad. Republicans have been far more concerned with media appearances than with actual lives lost.
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