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Two More Anti-DeSantis Narratives Bite the Dust

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

The attacks against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – largely fueled by political fear, in my opinion – are utterly unceasing, and often preposterous. We've corrected the record numerous times already and will continue to do so. In recent days, progressives criticized DeSantis for supposedly disappearing and not showing up for work, when in fact he was working at the Capitol in Tallahassee nearly every day and also was accompanying his wife to her cancer treatments. Quote: "Chemotherapy is not a vacation." White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also lied about DeSantis' position on vaccines from the White House podium. It's one thing to argue that DeSantis could be more proactive on that issue, and less focused on alternative treatments. There are some fair critiques to be made. But it's just false to pretend as though DeSantis hasn't encouraged vaccination in his state.

We've fact-checked this smear before. His critics previously assailed him for the various ways in which he encouraged vaccination (why's he doing it on Fox News?), prioritized the vulnerable (that's not the CDC guidance!), and made the process easy and convenient for Floridians (using the most popular chain store in the state is corrupt). Florida has the highest vaccination rate of any state carried by Trump in 2020, and is above the national average. But somehow it's always a lose/lose proposition for DeSantis with these people, because they are not operating in good faith. The latest hits on DeSantis involve expiring COVID tests and his de-emphasizing testing asymptomatic people. Let's start with the tests. The US is facing a nationwide testing shortage, even after trillions in supposed "pandemic" spending, and even some in the mainstream media cannot ignore this Biden administration failure. But in a clumsy effort to make this a DeSantis problem, Democrats and their media allies are alleging that DeSantis callously allowed a warehouse filled with tests to simply expire. Is that true? 


AG writes it's the "same pattern every week. It's exhausting. Local Democrats, especially Nikki Fried, spread false or misleading stories about DeSantis. National media picks it up with the same partisan framing. It gets debunked and they move on to the next one." If DeSantis had passed out the tests without a waiver, he'd be accused by the exact same people of peddling expired materials and disregarding the rules. As I say: Lose/lose, by design. Will the critics even mention this, or nah? 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Thursday that one million COVID-19 tests will be sent to elderly communities as part of his administration’s “seniors first” approach to combat the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. “We are redoubling our commitment to putting seniors first by prioritizing the delivery of test kits to assisted living facilities and nursing homes,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We’ve secured up to one million tests to be used for those most vulnerable to coronavirus complications, allowing us to put seniors first for early treatments which save lives.” A press release from DeSantis’ office notes that President Biden’s initiative to distribute 500 million COVID-19 rapid tests has not come to fruition. That, and the “public health bureaucrats in Washington” continuing to encourage young, asymptomatic people to test for COVID-19 drives up demand for tests.

DeSantis' political opponents in the Democratic Party and news media broadly looked past the testing push in nursing homes and went straight to blasting DeSantis downplaying over-broad testing. Many dunked on this statement

"The lowest value testing is just people who are just going to test to say 'hey, am I sick?' Now think about it: Before COVID, did anyone go out and seek testing to determine if they were sick? It's usually you feel like you're sick, and then you get tested...This is kind of a new thing where they've been saying to go out and test all the time...it's unlikely to yield very much clinical value for you."

Critics mocked him, noting that early screenings for cancer, for example, disprove his statement. This isn't exactly the clever point they think it is. Of course DeSantis isn't opposing early detection screenings for cancer. His wife has breast cancer. His argument is that using scarce COVID tests on asymptomatic people is a waste of time and resources. If there were a nationwide shortage of strep throat tests, why would we hand them out to people without a sore throat? If there were a glut of COVID tests (as there should be at this point), this wouldn't be an issue. But the Biden shortage is what it is. DeSantis' admonition actually echoes what officials in deep blue areas like New York and Washington, DC, are also saying, for the exact same reason. Mild or asymptomatic people are needlessly clogging up ER's and sucking up precious resources for no sound reason: 

New York City residents are clogging up vital local emergency rooms to simply get a COVID test, Gov. Kathy Hochul warned Friday. “Too many New Yorkers are going to emergency rooms to get a test, just to get a test,” Hochul said during a press conference in Manhattan. “Please do not go to an emergency room and tie up the resource of those [workers] so you can get a test.” She said that statewide, about 19 percent of emergency-room visits in the past 24 hours have been for coronavirus tests, putting an extra burden on ERs already overtaxed by the Omicron variant. In New York City, about 20 percent of ER visits in the past day have been for tests alone. “And don’t come in if you’ve very mild symptoms, either,” Hochul said of ER visits. “I know you’re anxious,” she said. “I really understand this. “But if you’re an adult with very minor symptoms, you can handle a runny nose, you can handle this throats being a little bit sore, a little bit of cough. “Just treat it as if you would have flu, follow the protocols, but please don’t overburden our emergency rooms."

That's New York. Here's DC, just a few days ago: "Hospitals in the greater Washington region are discouraging people who are asymptomatic or have mild covid-19 symptoms from seeking coronavirus tests in emergency rooms and urgent care offices, which are already struggling to treat severely ill patients while short-staffed." DeSantis is making effectively the same point: We shouldn't be wasting resources on people who aren't feeling very sick, or sick at all. Another point, beyond Biden's scandalously low testing supply: 


I'll leave you with this, which is an instructive and useful callback about getting key decisions right in the face of scorn and shaky polls (Luntz has also been a DeSantis critic on the testing quote above, for what it's worth): 

DeSantis was a leader on this crucial question, and the children of Florida are much, much better off for it. Nearly everyone (minus some neurotics and selfish teachers' unions) have belatedly come around to sharing his position, but not before a lot of damage was inflicted on kids. He's been correct on school masking, too. 

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