What’s happening in Tallahassee: An Editorial
Gabriella Small and Colette Tamburini – Layout Editor and Online Editor
COVID-19 is slowly starting to become a mainstay in our society, and it’s extremely upsetting. Although the numbers seemed to dip for quite a while, they are now reaching heights that didn’t seem possible when the virus initially struck the country. While this is a statement that rings true for most of the world, it is especially true for the sunshine state, Florida. With potentially infected tourists frequently flying in and out of state to relax at our beaches and dine at our restaurants, combined with residents increasingly wearing less masks, it seems like many people believe that everything is back to normal. Just how bad are the numbers, though?
Florida, according to Our World in Data, is among the top 3 states in the volume of COVID-19 cases and deaths. In one week, this year, from September 7 to 14, there were an estimated 326 deaths and 12,627 cases in total.
Although these numbers seem reasonable at a glance since Florida is one of the most heavily populated states in the US, they become more concerning when you compare them to the numbers of New York State.
New York State’s population is smaller than Florida’s by about 3 million, but their 7-day average case numbers are less than half of Florida’s. Something that should also be paid attention to is the difference in vaccination rates, with 70 percent of New York’s population having received at least one dose of the vaccine while Florida records 6 percent less.
That percentage difference may seem tiny, but when we consider that there is a common trend of COVID-nonbelievers, anti-maskers, and anti-vaxxers among the Floridian population, it’s reasonable to think that the percentage difference will only grow wider with time.
It also doesn’t help that Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, opposes students wearing masks during school. In July 2021, DeSantis had issued an executive order to have parents decide whether or not their children should wear masks or opt-out.
If a school still requires masks to be worn, the state will have to cut funding to the school, which is an unfair blow. School districts such as Broward Country and Miami-Dade have criticized DeSantis’ rulings, recognizing that they’re still in a global pandemic and the safety of students is top priority.
As of Sept. 20, Ron DeSantis’ rule on banning masks mandates is still on the loop. Punishing educators and staff for protecting children in-class shouldn’t have to be so controversial. According to Politico, child cases related to COVID-19 and the Delta Variant in Florida have increased to 63 percent since this August.
The response from Governor DeSantis is not only extremely disappointing, but disgustingly uncaring. Vaccines and masks have been shown to be effective for whittling down case volumes, but instead it seems like Governor DeSantis wants to demonize the two and put the safety of the Floridian population at stake.
The actions and decisions he makes seem to only fuel the wildfire of COVID and its deniers, and it doesn’t look like he cares too much either of those consequences. We can only hope that as the condition of the state gets worse, something will finally be done to quell the raging storm that is COVID-19.