Florida Democratic Party chair slams DeSantis for state's high COVID-19 cases

The chair of the Florida Democratic Party on Friday slammed GOP Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisHaley hits the stump in South Carolina Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills A sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor MORE for the state’s record number of COVID-19 cases, accusing the leader of “aggravating this worsening health crisis” by banning vaccine and mask mandates. 

Chairman Manny Diaz issued a statement in response to news that Florida had recorded 22,783 new COVID-19 cases, the highest number recorded in a single day in the Sunshine State since the pandemic began. 

Florida also recorded a new high for coronavirus hospitalizations for the fifth day in a row, with 12,864 patients currently in the hospital with COVID-19 infections. 

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Diaz joined in on the criticism aimed at DeSantis for his hands-off approach to the pandemic, writing that “watching a slow moving catastrophe unfolding with no one to stop it brings on a special sense of dread.” 

“It’s a sensation Floridians have grown very familiar with over the past few weeks,” he continued. “Day by day we have seen the explosive growth of new COVID cases and hospitalizations, yet the one person in a position to help steer us away from peril is not only not doing so, he is actually guiding us further and deeper into it."

“As the nation has looked on in disbelief, Governor Ron DeSantis has failed to act to save Floridian lives and insists on aggravating this worsening health crisis,” continued Diaz, who from 2001 to 2009 served as the mayor of Miami. 

The party chair said that DeSantis “is stopping local governments, school boards and private businesses from implementing common sense public health measures to slow down the rate of infections,” and is “blaming immigrants for his failures instead of acknowledging his mistakes.” 

“At the end of the day this is nothing more than a bare-faced effort to pander to the radical anti-masking, anti-vaccination, COVID-denialist segment of his party,” he added. “This is morally reprehensible.” 

Diaz specifically cited concerns on how the growing number of cases could affect students returning to schools across Florida in the coming weeks, especially after DeSantis issued his order prohibiting school districts from requiring masks among students. 

“There is no way around it: we are a state adrift without a leader as we face the greatest public health crisis in recent memory,” he concluded. 

DeSantis has continued to defend his bans on school mask mandates and vaccine passports, arguing that residents who do not want to wear facial coverings or who choose not to get vaccinated should not be punished. 

However, his approach has attracted criticism from many Democrats, including President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE, who said that the pandemic-era decisions by DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) were “bad health policy,” telling governors who did not impose measures to combat the virus to “get out of the way of people who are trying to do the right thing.” 

DeSantis hit back on Biden’s remarks, saying at a press conference Wednesday that he would continue to “stand in” Biden’s way for “coming after the rights of parents in Florida.”