COVID-19: Florida Media Taking a Backseat


Fox News

Governor Ron DeSantis discussing the coronavirus and its impact in Central and South Florida.

Brendan Guillen, Reporter

Governor Ron DeSantis has finally relented and as of midnight Thursday, a state-wide stay-at-home order has been put into effect for 30 days.

Ali Mokdad, professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said Monday evening that Florida should shut down to lessen the projected infection and death rates as the weather warms up. According to the university’s model, despite the blanket stay-at-home order, Florida’s COVID-19 outbreak will overwhelm intensive care units and lead to thousands of deaths by the summer.

Until this point, much of Florida’s plan had remained in obscurity. Saturday evening, the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times were barred from a COVID-19 press briefing, which may have contributed to the widespread confusion. The briefing included Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the lieutenant governor, the state surgeon general and other state officials. It was set to discuss COVID-19 testing, measures to restrict New York-to-Florida air travel, and current access to medicine.

The barred news outlets had sent a single reporter, Mary Ellen Klas, the Herald’s bureau chief for the Herald and Tampa Bay Times’ Tallahasse division. When asked why Klas had been refused access, state spokesperson Meredith Beatrice deflected the question and stated that the meetings would be posted online via satellite feed. Klas stated that “The problem with having this available on a satellite feed is there’s no interaction, and we’d already had several days where they weren’t answering [our] questions.”

In the words of executive editor of the Tampa Bay Times, Mark Katches,”By restricting our ability to report and ask questions of his administration, the governor ultimately is penalizing the people of Florida who rely on the Times/ Herald bureau for accurate and reliable information during an unprecedented public health crisis.”

As of April 2nd at 6:30 pm, there are an estimated 9,008 COVID-19 infections and 144 deaths in Florida, according to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Health. In total, the U.S. has nearly 242,182 cases of COVID-19 and 5,850 deaths as of 6:21 pm, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The severity of the virus is not to be taken lightly, and the American people must understand that. Florida may very easily become another New York, the state that currently carries the weight of half the national COVID-19 death toll on its shoulders. This is not your typical break from work or school. With COVID-19 making its presence increasingly known in the United States, the news cannot take a back seat. Now is the time to keep people informed and connected, not isolated in ignorance.