Fred Piccolo, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ communications director, has resigned from the governor’s office, a move he said was planned before he deleted his Twitter account shortly after his controversial Christmas Eve tweet about COVID-19 victims.
Piccolo, who was named DeSantis’s chief spokesman in July, said he will move over to the state Department of Education next week, where he will rejoin Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. Piccolo previously worked for Corcoran at the state House Speaker’s office.
Piccolo made national headlines last week after stating that photos of each dead COVID-19 victim should be balanced with 99 photos of people who survive the disease.
But Piccolo told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Thursday he had submitted a letter of resignation to the governor’s office on Dec. 23, the day before his controversial tweet.
Early in the morning on Dec. 24, Piccolo tweeted in response to a Reuters photo gallery on COVID-19 that included pictures of victims, despondent doctors and nurses, grieving families, and overwhelmed funeral homes over the course of the pandemic, which has killed almost 343,000 people in the U.S.
“I’m wondering since 99% [of] Covid patients survive shouldn’t you have 99 photos of survivors for every one fatality?” Piccolo wrote, according to screenshots from Miami Herald and WLRN reporters. “Otherwise you’re just trying to create a narrative that is not reality.”
The tweet drew immediate backlash, and Piccolo deleted his account later that day.
But said his departure from Twitter was long-planned.
“I’ve made people far angrier with other things in the past, this is just an observation that I think was worthy of consternation,” Piccolo said of his last tweet. “But I said this was going to be my Christmas gift to myself to get off of the medium, so I said let’s do it.”
Piccolo over the past few months has gained notoriety for his Twitter account, which had pushed misinformation about the coronavirus.
He questioned the efficacy of mask-wearing and mask mandates at least 16 times and claimed that COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu at least three times.
--Steven Lemongello And Mario Ariza
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