Florida-COVID-19-response The doctors called for Gov. DeSantis to make safety a higher priority in the Sunshine State.
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As cases surge in the state, these physicians blast the Republican governor’s refusal to return to lockdowns.

Despite assurances from President Donald Trump over the weekend that “we’re rounding the turn, we’re doing great,” deaths per day from the novel coronavirus in the US are on the rise again, and cases continue to climb in nearly every state.

In Florida, for example, in the past seven days the state has averaged about 3,935 new cases of COVID-19 reported each day. That’s up by nearly 1,000 cases a day, compared with the previous week’s average of 2,940. 

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On Thursday, Oct. 29, a whopping 4,198 confirmed cases were added to the tally, bringing the total of those infected to 794,624, with 16,648 Florida residents now dead of the illness. Florida’s COVID-19 death rate since the pandemic began is ninth among states, even as the state has faced claims that new cases and deaths are underreported

Alarmed at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement that no matter the severity of another surge there won’t be a return to lockdowns, doctors in Florida have decided to sound the alarm, warning that more people can be expected to fall ill or die.  

“Heartbreaking and Irresponsible”

On Wednesday, three Florida physicians speaking for the Committee to Protect Medicare, publicly blasted President Donald Trump and DeSantis for pursuing a herd immunity strategy, which requires a dramatic rise in cases and occurs when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely. Calling it “heartbreaking” and “irresponsible,” they warned that this would overwhelm hospitals and lead to many thousands of needless deaths.

“One hundred percent of epidemiologists and infectious disease experts strongly, I mean strongly, oppose this approach,” Gainesville infectious disease specialist Dr. Frederick Southwick, author of “Infectious Disease: A Clinical Short Course,” told reporters via Zoom.

Both Trump and DeSantis have denied pursuing herd immunity, but the doctors contended that their actions, opening everything from schools to sports stadiums, promotes a false sense of a return to normalcy, even as the virus resurges. This, they claim, amounts to “a surrender to herd immunity.” Furthermore, new concerns were raised after White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday that the pandemic will not be controlled.

Refusing to Follow the Science

“By following Trump’s lead and refusing to follow the science, Gov. DeSantis is once again making the pandemic worse in our already hard-hit state,” said Jacksonville internist Dr. Jennifer Cowart, as she called out the Republican incumbent for not enacting a state mask mandate, for reopening businesses “without proper safety precautions, and for [tying] the hands of local governments.” She added that, like Trump, DeSantis has leaned into the dangerous, misunderstood concept of herd immunity as his excuse for a statewide plan.

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The doctors pleaded with DeSantis to reverse or slow down some of his reopening measures and to immediately make mask-wearing, as well as other safety precautions, a higher priority. They also urged the president to stop holding massive rallies and other “super-spreader” events.

“It’s beyond frustrating… to let our state be taken over by a preventable virus,” added Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami cardiologist. “My colleagues across the state… are joining today because we’re fed up with Donald Trump’s and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as our state sees what could be another major surge.”