Shalala on Florida outbreaks: 'We need to close down again'

Shalala on Florida outbreaks: 'We need to close down again'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaDemocratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet MORE (D-Fla.) said Sunday that Florida, which is in the middle of a major coronavirus outbreak, would need to shut down again to properly address it.

State leaders “opened too soon and they misunderstood what you need to do, or they understand it and they’re not willing to do it,” Shalala said.


The Florida congresswoman cited the toll the virus is taking not only on senior citizens but “in my district its low-income minorities, Hispanics and African Americans, who are forced to go back to work for economic reasons and because their employers demanded they go back to work,” noting that such constituents often live in multi-generational households.

She went on to castigate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans Group of Florida mayors calls on DeSantis to issue mask mandate DeSantis promises to keep Florida open despite recent coronavirus case surge MORE (R) for declining to impose a statewide mask mandate.

“Luckily our mayors in South Florida have done that, but that’s just a small piece because this disease doesn’t know what county or what city it’s in,” she said.

“We need to close down again,” Shalala told guest host Martha Raddatz. “I said four months ago if we don’t do this right we’re going to have to close down again. That’s our worst nightmare and we’re going to have to do that in Florida.”

Asked by Raddatz about the potential economic consequences of re-closing, Shalala said there would be similar consequences for taking no action.

“Our economy will not come back until we meet this virus at its head and knock it down,” she said. “I care deeply about the economy, but first I care about human life and with our hospitals filled ... we simply cannot protect the economy if we don’t protect the lives of the people in our community.”