Trump says ‘even Cuomo’ did better than DeSantis on COVID-19

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy/Alex Brandon)

Former President Trump says “even” former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) handled the coronavirus pandemic better than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), his latest attack coming the day after DeSantis officially joined the 2024 GOP presidential primary. 

Trump said in a video from his campaign Thursday that Florida had among the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the country and shut down numerous public locations at the onset of the pandemic, including beaches. 

“How about the fact that he had the third-most deaths of any state… Even Cuomo did better. He was No. 4,” Trump said. 

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Florida had the third-highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in 2021, while New York had the fourth-most. But the data also shows Florida had the 18th-highest death rate per 100,000 residents that year. 

Trump has previously attacked DeSantis over his record handling the pandemic, claiming that he shut down his state while other Republican governors did not. 

DeSantis first issued an order encouraging people to remain at home and shutting down all but essential businesses on April 1, 2020, later than most other governors. He announced toward the end of the month that the state would begin lifting the lockdown order and ended it entirely by that September. 

DeSantis received criticism from opponents who slammed him for ending the lockdown as the number of cases and hospitalizations in the state rose toward the end of 2020. He has often touted his own policies keeping Florida open as many other states continued lockdowns longer. 

Cuomo also faced criticism over his administration’s handling of the pandemic, with a report from New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) finding that the administration majorly undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. 

Trump also referred to DeSantis’s ongoing legal battle with Disney over the governor’s attempt to remove the company’s self-governing status over its parks. 

“And look at Disney and what a mess it is. Could’ve worked out an easy settlement, but no, he wanted to show the fake news how tough a guy he is. He’s not,” Trump said. 

This echoed other comments Trump has made criticizing the situation, saying last month that DeSantis was getting “absolutely destroyed” by Disney.

DeSantis, who joined the White House race Wednesday after months of speculation, regularly polls second behind Trump in GOP primary surveys.

Tags 2024 presidential election Andrew Cuomo Andrew Cuomo COVID lockdowns COVID-19 pandemic Donald Trump Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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