NEWS ANALYSIS: DeSantis under attack for putting his political aspirations ahead of the well-being of Floridians


Florida governor Ron DeSantis has come under attack from former president Donald Trump for refusing to reveal if he has had a COVID-19 booster vaccination.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is under fire by many, including former President Donald Trump, for his refusal to say whether or not he received his COVID-19 booster vaccination. This has only added fuel to the fire for those that question the governor’s policies over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. People wonder if he has kept the best interest of the public in mind when developing COVID-19 protocols. This is crucial as the governor is already engaged in his 2022 re-election campaign while seemingly attempting to court favor with the anti-vaccination, anti-mask, anti-mandate populace to not only win re-election but to also set himself up for a 2024 presidential run.

As former Republican governor Rick Scott was on his way out of office after serving from 2011 to 2019, then President Trump, who owns property and maintains his primary residence in the Sunshine State, stepped in to help DeSantis get elected. Trump did this to ensure that the historically-red state stayed under a Republican governor. The last time Floridians elected a Democratic governor was Lawton Chiles in 1994.   

Political observers feel that Trump now sees DeSantis as a threat to his own 2024 presidential aspirations, hence Trump’s recent public attacks on DeSantis. Trump, who reported that he has received a COVID-19 booster, is hammering into DeSantis for refusing to disclose his vaccination records. “I watched a couple politicians be interviewed and one of the questions was, ‘Did you get a booster?’ Because they had the vaccine and they’re answering like — in other words, the answer is ‘yes’ but they don’t want to say it, because they’re gutless,’ Trump told OAN. “You gotta say it,” he added. “Whether you had it or not, say it.”

Nevertheless, a growing number of Republicans have said that they would support a DeSantis presidential run in 2024, comparing his personality and political demeanor to Trump’s. “DeSantis would be a formidable 2024 candidate in the Trump lane should Trump not run,” Republican Dan Eberhart, chief executive officer of Canary, LLC, a Colorado-based drilling-services company, and managing partner of Eberhart Capital, LLC, told The New York Times. “He’s Trump but a little smarter, more disciplined and brusque without being too brusque.”

Of course, DeSantis remains under attack from those who claim he is putting his own political aspirations ahead of the well-being of Floridians with his refusal to encourage Floridians to get vaccinated and his opposition to  COVID-19 masking mandates. One of the major issues that people across the United States saw as a red flag was DeSantis’ push to reopen public buildings only a few months into the COVID-19 quarantine. Florida was one of a few states that received criticism for their hasty attempts to reopen. 

After going on lockdown in March 2020, DeSantis only waited until early May to begin reopening the state. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the past six presidents, has criticized DeSantis, saying that the state “jumped over a couple of checkpoints” in their initiative to reopen, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Unfortunately for Florida residents, especially those living in Palm Beach and other South Florida counties, DeSantis’s hastiness to re-open the state exposed them very early to COVID-19, and the momentum of cases would not stop there. In July 2020, 40 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the state came from South Florida, which only makes up 29 percent of the state population. It’s safe to say that a disproportionate number of South Floridians suffered the consequences of hastily lifting restrictions.

This was repeated when schools opened up for the 2021-2022 school year. DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education eliminated the blended model of learning from the previous year in which students could choose to stay home or attend school in-person. DeSantis felt that students had lost over a full school year of education, along with a massive social loss, and did not want to make students stay isolated any longer.

DeSantis received more heat for his opposition to school mandatory mask mandates, which many consider a vital aspect of maintaining a low case count while students attend school in-person. He issued an executive order in July 2021 that would ensure that parents had the “freedom to choose” whether their children should wear a mask at school. 

The order explained that “despite recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ’guidance,’ forcing students to wear masks lacks a well-grounded scientific justification.” The order appeared by some to have mocked the CDC despite the organization’s guidance over the course of the pandemic on social distancing, sanitization methods, and other preventative measures.

Broward County led other school districts in opposing the governor’s ban on mask mandates, but eventually, DeSantis overruled the mandate. Subsequently, Palm Beach County schools experienced a dramatic increase in case numbers, especially following winter break and the outbreak of the Omicron variant.