As Florida prepares to ease a month-long shutdown, Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered a scathing rebuttal of apocalyptic predictions for his state that were breathlessly hyped by the news media and proven wrong during the coronavirus crisis.
The governor showed slides of media stories warning that Florida would quickly run out of hospital beds while predicting the state would be the “next New York” or even a disastrous “uber Italy.”
Instead, the state with one of the most vulnerable populations due to age is faring well among the big states that were hit and is nowhere close to New York’s unfortunate predicament.
Watch the presentation here:
We need to focus on facts and not fear. They said Florida was going to be just like New York or an “Uber Italy” when it came to hospitalizations and fatalities. This was wrong. It’s time to focus on the facts and follow a safe, smart and step-by-step plan for recovery. pic.twitter.com/tCksZJ05a3
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 1, 2020
“We need to focus on facts and not fear,” said DeSantis. “I think that there’s been a lot that’s been done to try to promote fear.”
“They said Florida was going to be just like New York or an ‘Uber Italy’ when it came to hospitalizations and fatalities. This was wrong. It’s time to focus on the facts and follow a safe, smart and step-by-step plan for recovery.”
DeSantis posted a graphic of a Washington Examiner piece titled, “Florida could be the next New York in the coronavirus outbreak.”
Similar red alert headlines comparing Florida to the crisis in New York were blared by numerous other media outlets.
“Coronavirus could make Florida the next New York,” was the title of an alarming Sun Sentinel article which is currently titled “Coronavirus is ravaging New York, and Florida could be next. Are we ready?” The former title still shows up on search engines.
“As coronavirus cases surge in Florida, fears mount that action came too late,” reads a screeching Washington Post headline from one month ago as New York cases were skyrocketing.
One month later, the picture emerging from Florida currently tells a starkly different story – one of success in the face of media sniping.
The overall numbers show Florida faring quite well among big states, a remarkable achievement given that Florida has one of the oldest populations in the nation.
DeSantis showed statistics comparing Florida’s fatalities per 100,000 to New York’s higher number even though the Florida population is larger and skews older. An April 22 map shows 76.2 deaths per 100,000 in New York and 4.0 deaths per 100,000 to Florida. DeSantis used an April 28 graphic showing 117.5 per 100,000 in New York compared to 5.2 in Florida.
New York has had 42,417 estimated hospitalizations. This compared to a reported 3,745 hospitalizations in Florida as of today.
“Saying Florida was going to be like New York was wrong and people need to know it was wrong,” DeSantis commented.
The Florida governor cited a demographer at the University of California, Irvine, Andrew Noymer, who received widespread media attention when he warned that “Florida is like an uber-Italy.”
“Not just like Italy. Way worse than Italy is what they were trying to say,” DeSantis said of the doomsday predictions.
Leaving aside the massive numbers of total hospitalizations in Italy during the crisis, DeSantis compared the number of people currently hospitalized in Italy per 100,000 to Florida’s much lower numbers. He also showed a graph of 45.5 fatalities per 100,000 in Italy to Florida’s 5.2.
“Yeah, I think Italy was a little worse than Florida there,” he said mockingly.
The governor showed another widely cited model from March predicting 465,699 people would need to be hospitalized due to coronavirus. That would have been disastrous given that Florida was predicted to have 36,384 hospital beds available by that date.
DeSantis said the models were “off by about 463,000 hospitalizations.”
His presentation comes as some in the media are once again engaging in fearmongering. This time over the governor’s plans to lessen restrictions while maintaining tighter policies on the harder-hit Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Florida’s phased re-opening is titled, “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step, Plan for Florida’s Recovery.”
USA Today reports on the plan:
Among the changes for the rest of the state: Restaurants can serve outdoors and have indoor dining again but only at 25% capacity. Health care providers also can begin doing elective procedures again.
Along with the restaurant changes, retail stores not considered essential services could now welcome customers inside, but also be limited to 25% capacity.
Bars, gyms, hairdressers and other personal services would remain closed for now, and DeSantis said he won’t immediately reopen movie theaters, which would be allowed under the first stage of the White House’s three-phased guidance to states looking to restart.
Employers are asked to encourage remote working but those who return to work should engage in social distancing and wear face masks.
The elderly population and those with underlying health conditions should remain at home while nursing home visitations are prohibited.
Also, groups of more than 10 people are discouraged without proper social distancing.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow.