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 ShalalaDemocrats face bleak outlook in Florida 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Pelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel 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.

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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 DeSantisDeSantis pledges to sue Biden administration over vaccine mandates We have a presidential leadership crisis — and it's only going to get worse Biden touts progress but warns US in 'critical period' as millions remain unvaccinated 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.”