Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' decision to suspend all local COVID-19 emergency orders prompted a wave of backlash from officials and even his opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial race.
ABC News said the Republican governor issued the executive order Monday (May 3) to enact provisions of a newly passed law faster. State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2006 last week, which forces local emergency orders to expire within a week starting July 1. It also allows the governor to invalidate any local emergency order, reporters added. DeSantis recently signed the bill.
“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” he said during a press conference in St. Petersburg. “I think folks that are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, then you’re really saying you don’t believe in the vaccines.”
The Tampa Bay Times learned businesses can still enact their own mask and social distancing rules. The order doesn't apply to schools, either.
The virus still poses a threat in the Sunshine State, however. Around 3,100 Floridians were hospitalized Monday due to COVID-19, according to state data. Coronavirus data from John Hopkins University said only 28.27% of the state's population is fully vaccinated.
Several Florida officials criticized DeSantis' actions, especially St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. The mayor even said, "Our health has become politicized."
"Forgive me if I want to follow the experts and the opinions of experts like the CDC," he told reporters. "Not even quite 44% yet of the population of my county has been [at least partially] vaccinated. I was really hoping ... to get at least above 50% vaccinations before we start looking at scaling back. But we've scaled back."
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she was "deeply concerned by the decision."
"We are still in a public health emergency, and our economy has not fully rebounded from crisis," she said.
Florida Rep. Charlie Crist, who announced another bid for governor, said DeSantis "failed to lead during the pandemic, leaving local officials as the last line of defense against the pandemic, forcing them to make the hard decisions to save lives."
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