Orlando newspaper knocks DeSantis for Texas trip amid spike in Florida COVID-19 cases

The Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board knocked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios DeSantis takes action against Ben & Jerry's for ending sales in Israeli-occupied areas Crist rips DeSantis over Florida COVID-19 spike: 'We don't have leadership' MORE (R) on Tuesday for his trip to Texas over the weekend amid a spike in coronavirus infections in Florida.

In an op-ed titled, “We’re begging you, Gov. DeSantis, stop messing in Texas and save Florida from COVID," the paper's editorial board sounded the alarm over the Sunshine State's coronavirus case increase.  

“Florida was all over the news this past weekend with one of the nation’s biggest spikes in COVID cases and hospitalizations. And where was Gov. Ron DeSantis as this health crisis resurged? Visiting hospitals? Consulting with physicians and public health experts? Huddling with his staff to brainstorm ways of persuading more Floridians to take the vaccine that would nip this pandemic in the bud?” the board asked.

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“Nope. Florida’s governor was in Texas, 1,000 miles from Tallahassee, burnishing his 2024 presidential ambitions with a visit to the southern border,” the board quipped.

The Florida governor, an ardent supporter of former President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE, is viewed as a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate. He visited Texas on Saturday for a visit to the southern border with Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

On Sunday, DeSantis gave a speech at an event hosted by Turning Point USA.

The White House said Friday that Florida accounts for nearly 20 percent of the country’s new COVID-19 infections.

Fifty-five percent of the state’s population has received dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 47.8 percent have been fully inoculated. 

DeSantis downplayed the spike in a press conference on Monday, and criticized public health experts that “lambast people and criticize them” for not yet getting vaccinated.

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Throughout the pandemic, the governor has railed against recommendations to close schools and businesses. 

In addition, his reelection campaign has launched merchandise taking shots at Anthony FauciAnthony FauciCNN: Every county in Florida, Arkansas rated 'high transmission' for community spread Rising case count reignites debate over COVID-19 restrictions Trump surgeon general: 'Pandemic is spiraling out of control' MORE, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

“At the moment, it’s as if DeSantis has washed his hands of the matter and moved on to elections, borders, critical race theory, mocking Fauci or whatever else will get him a headline,” the board wrote.

“‘Leadership is about handling problems.’ That’s what DeSantis told the conservative TPUSA crowd on Sunday. We agree. Completely. Please, governor, we’re begging you, handle the COVID problem. Be a leader,” the board wrote.

A spokesperson for DeSantis referred The Hill to DeSantis’s Monday press conference, in which he criticized the government for having a more relaxed approach to illegal immigration than COVID-19.  

"If you wanted to go on a cruise ship, the federal government doesn't want you except under extreme circumstances," DeSantis said at the time. "But if you just want to hopscotch across that border, they don't care about COVID, they're letting you straight in." 

The spokesperson added, "Beyond the Governor’s statement about the paradox of advocating for COVID restrictions on Americans while embracing open borders and unfettered mass immigration from countries with 1% vaccination rates, which the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board ought to consider, I think it’s worth noting that the Governor of Florida can address more than one issue at a time." 

"The border crisis directly affects Florida," she said. 

—Updated at 1:22 p.m.