Gov. DeSantis should test his COVID theories by spending a couple weeks inside a school | Column
And he should bring his wife and kids along, says columnist Daniel Ruth.
People who oppose mandatory masks in schools protest at the Broward County School District headquarters in Fort Lauderdale in May.
People who oppose mandatory masks in schools protest at the Broward County School District headquarters in Fort Lauderdale in May.
Published Aug. 11, 2021|Updated Aug. 11, 2021

Let’s say your house is on fire. At the moment the crisis is limited to a small section of the garage and all you need to do to avert total disaster is call the fire department to douse the flames.

Alas, there is a problem. The governor and the state legislature have ruled municipalities are forbidden from using water (especially if it is fluoridated) to put out fires, because it is a liberal, socialist assault on liberty and freedom.

Times Columnist Dan Ruth.
Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

Hah, you say and yet hah again. No Republican governor and/or a Republican legislature made up of fawning, obsequious toadies doing the bidding of the Great Pumpkin of Mar-a-Lago would ever do something so insanely stupid.

Ah, but this is Florida the Home of the Knave, where ham-handed bumptiousness knows no bounds. Oh and by the way, don’t even think about voting. No good ever comes from it.

But we digress.

Florida keeps setting new one-day records for COVID-19 infections, recently topping more than 20,000 cases. Indeed Florida is responsible for about 20 percent all new COVID cases nationwide. Or put another way. According the Agency for Health Care Administration, nearly 84 percent of the state’s hospital beds are currently occupied, with 86 percent of that number being used to treat COVID infections. Ahem, do you think we have a problem here?

Now back here on earth, if you had a situation where thousands of people were winding up in the hospital after contracting an incredibly contagious disease that can kill them, it might be prudent for local governments hardest hit by the emerging pandemic to impose some simple common sense public safety measures like requiring people entering public buildings like schools and government offices to at least wear a mask.

Really, how hard it this? How extreme is this?

But up in Tallahassee, local government officials have been legally constrained from implementing new restrictions targeted to combating the spread of a horrific viral strain of COVID-19, the delta virus.

So much for the hypocritical Republican mantra of respecting home rule.

It would be tempting to regard the “ignore all those people gasping for breath, forget all those last rites, pay no attention to all those body bags, nothing to see here” Tallahassee attitude as simply an extreme Fox News/Newsmax/One America News disconnect from reality. After all it is a bit scary that Tucker Carlson seems to hold more sway over the health of millions of Americans than that group of radical, elitist show-offs, otherwise known as doctors.

Rather it seems the assault on science goes deeper than merely a massive trench of civic illiteracy running rampant through at least half the country. There is a cruelty to the misinformation campaigns, a vexing effort on the part of politically ambitious pols like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to exploit the unfounded fears of the ill-informed even at the expense of their well-being.

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What might we call this? The ultimately perverse voter suppression scam?

DeSantis has justified an executive order banning local governments from issuing vaccination mandates and requiring the wearing of masks by citing a Brown University study that found no correlation between masks and infections rates. But the Brown study was conducted before the arrival of the virulent delta variant.

The governor added he has young children and that he and his wife had no intention of “doing the mask thing.”

Okay. Fair enough. We could probably put this whole issue to rest if the governor and his family were willing to engage in a simple experiment.

The school year is starting. Since DeSantis seems to have such an aversion to modest public safety measures to protect against contracting COVID, would he and his family be willing to spend the first week or so of the school year embedded with the Hillsborough, Broward or Miami-Dade school systems — eight to 10 hours a day, every day — mingling maskless with students, faculty and staff?

Perhaps state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran (and his family) could join the governor and his brood. What fun! What could possibly go wrong?

Seems like a simple enough way to prove the governor right and boost his man-of-the-people bona fides.

In the end, to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, DeSantis would have nothing to fear, but reality itself.