Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested members of the national news media should apologize to mayors in Duval County, Florida for hyping criticism of decisions by local jurisdictions to reopen some beaches in mid-April.
The beaches in Duval County were reopened only under social distancing rules.
Seventeen days later, DeSantis presented data that shows Duval County remains among the lowest of the state’s major metropolitan areas when it comes to new Coronavirus cases.
He also showed graphs depicting significant declines in coronavirus hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and the use of ventilators in Duval County.
“I think apologies can be sent to the city of Jacksonville attention Mayor [Lenny] Curry,” said DeSantis, addressing members of the national media. “You may want to CC the mayors of Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach. But I won’t hold my breath on that happening.”
“The facts are that since this has happened hospitalizations, ICU, rate of positivity, [patients on] ventilators — that has all declined. Those people were wrong and the folks in Duval County behaved appropriately,” he added.
DeSantis called on reporters to focus on the “truth” instead of causing a “frenzy” and “allowing things to get carried away.”
Watch his presentation here:
In mid-April, out-of-state media had a spasm because Duval County opened its beaches for recreational use.
Now 17 days later, have the fears of this drive-by smear against Floridians been realized?https://t.co/UcXSUk2xcw
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 4, 2020
As he was speaking, a screen showed alarmist headlines about the beach reopenings in the New York Times, Washington Post and other newspapers as well as an image from a critical segment on the topic aired on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show.
“#FloridaMorons trends after people flock to reopened Florida beaches,” was the title of a Washington Post piece.
CBS News critically reported that “Mayor Lenny Curry reopened beaches and parks in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday, after Governor Ron DeSantis gave the green light for them to reopen, despite the state hitting a record number of coronavirus cases.”
The New York Times, Washington Post and other media outlets used similar images that show many people walking on a Jacksonville beach. It not clear from the pictures whether those photographed were violating the social distancing rules. The closeup images seem to show people keeping distance but those who can be seen were not wearing masks or other face coverings
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 19, 2020
“Of course, you look at the photo that is used. It’s like get that lens right in that area so it looks like there are so many people crowded out there,” DeSantis quipped.
Many of the same national media outlets critical of DeSantis and Duval County politicians had nothing to say about the decision by three Democratic governors at around the same time — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont – to reopen marinas and boatyards also under social distancing rules.
There has also been a lack of criticism about Manhattan’s Central Park being open to the public while visitor centers and playgrounds have been closed until further notice. People magazine recently published photographs showing crowds in Central Park clearly breaking the “six feet apart” guidelines, with many not wearing face masks.
The beach reopenings in northeastern Florida controversially led to Miami Herald metro columnist Fabiola Santiago tweeting that Florida residents packing beaches “should work nicely to thin the ranks” of supporters of President Donald Trump and DeSantis.
Santiago later deleted the offending tweet and issued an apology. Mindy Marques, publisher and executive editor of the Miami Herald, also issued an apology and said the newspaper would “follow up internally.”
Meanwhile, DeSantis presented numbers from Duval County since the beach reopenings showing hospitalizations for coronavirus down 28%, ICU admissions down 50% and ventilator use down 32%, according to data reported to the AHCA Emergency Status System.
The governor showed a graph of case positivity rate that has not seen major spikes and has trended in a promising direction. This while local mainstream media reported in recent days that Duval County remains the lowest among the state’s major metropolitan areas for new positive cases.
The Florida Times-Union paper, for example, reported:
Duval County continues to record positive tests at a rate of 4 percent. That remains the lowest of the state’s largest metropolitan areas: Miami-Dade County has recorded 14 percent positive tests thus far, while Broward and Palm Beach counties both report 10 percent positive and Hillsborough and Orange counties are both at 5 percent.
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.