The governor appeared to make a joke about the state’s senior population despite indications that one in five cases of coronavirus in Florida was found in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
As Florida became one of 10 states with more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was called out on social media for appearing to joke that the state is “God’s waiting room” due to the large senior citizen population in Florida.
‘Florida is ground zero for the nursing home, we’re God’s waiting room,’ the governor said on Sunday in Orlando during a briefing on the state’s response to the coronavirus.
WATCH: The moment when DeSantis uses inflammatory terms to refer to one of the most vulnerable populations in Florida: the elderly.
The reference was called “shameful,” with one Twitter user responding to DeSantis by saying that if Florida is God’s waiting room, the Florida State House “has to be Satan’s waiting room for heartless governors.”
For several weeks during the rising coronavirus pandemic in Florida, the names of elder care facilities affected by COVID-19 remained unknown, even as family members worried if their loved ones were safe in their nursing home or assisted living facility.
After unrelenting pressure from advocates for the elderly and families of residents, state officials revealed that 303 elder care facilities in 45 Florida counties have staff or residents who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Despite indications that one in five cases of coronavirus in Florida was found in the state’s 3,800 assisted living facilities (ALFs) or nursing homes, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees refused to divulge the names of those that reported cases of COVID-19. Instead, Rivkees sided with the Florida Health Care Association, which represents 300 nursing homes, saying that to divulge the list of names would violate the residents’ privacy.