Florida Governor DeathSantis may be evil-- no, he is evil-- but he's no dummy; he's sending his oldest kid-- Mason-- to a private school with a mask mandate. [Mamie and Madison are too young for school]. This is the notice DeSantis sent to CBS4 in Miami today:
With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for noncompliance of state law regarding these rules and ultimately the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education and health care decisions, it would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed. For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law.
Education funding is intended to benefit students first and foremost, not systems. The Governor’s priorities are protecting parents’ rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs.
Earlier, he had threatened to cut off school funding to any district that enacts a mask mandate for students, even though 15% of new COVID cases in the last 2 weeks are among children. Around 84% of Florida's hospital beds are occupied and that number is growing by the day, thanks in large part to DeathSantis' partisan/career agenda. As of Friday there were 2,750 patients in Florida intensive care units. Florida has the most daily new cases and the most daily deaths of any other state-- and has for months. Today, Florida reported 28,317 new cases. The next top 5 states combined had fewer cases:
North Carolina- 3,863
New York- 3,356
And Florida reported 120 deaths today-- more than the next ten states with the most deaths combined! DeathSantis may be able to push local governments and local school boards around but important industries... not so much. This morning Newsweek reported that a federal judge slapped down DeSantis' own mandate yesterday-- a mandate against cruise lines requiring safety measure son their ships. "In early May, DeSantis signed a bill into law prohibiting any business operating in the state from requiring proof of COVID vaccination, citing 'personal choice' for its citizens. Norwegian Cruise Lines requires that anyone who travels with them show proof of vaccination. The company sued, "arguing that it jeopardized the health and safety of crew members and was in breach of the First Amendment's right to free speech.
"This order will now allow the company to operate in the safest way possible with 100% vaccination of all guests and crew when sailing from Florida ports," a spokesperson for Norwegian told ABC affiliate WFTV on Sunday.
"Nothing takes priority over the health and safety of the Company's guests, crew and the communities visited and our commitment to them is paramount. The Company's first sailing from Florida is scheduled on August 15, 2021 on Norwegian Gem departing from Miami."
[Judge Kathleen] Williams' ruling is the latest blow to DeSantis, after several school districts in the state announced they would enforce the use of face masks in schools despite the governor issuing an executive order last week threatening funding to facilities that defied the ban on mandates.
In most countries vaccine mandates on cruise ships are standard and not in the slightest controversial. And among Floridian cruise passengers, vaccine mandates are very popular, some passengers saying they won't sail without them. Cruise lines have noted that DeathSantis is ruining their businesses by interfering and trying to micro-manage them.
Meanwhile, one of DeathSantis' extreme right colleagues, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants a do-over. He told a press conference today that he's sorry he signed a bill the state legislature passed banning mask mandates in schools and he's asking them to reverse the decision. "I signed it at the time because our cases were at a very low point. I knew it'd be overridden by the legislature if I didn’t sign it... I already eliminated our statewide mask mandate... I signed it for those reasons that our cases were at a low point. Everything has changed now. And yes, in hindsight I wish that had not become law... Local school districts are all different across the state and they have different opinions on this and they reflect different wishes of parents and their constituents. Local school districts should make the call and they should have more options to make sure that their school is a safe environment during a very challenging time for education."
Arkansas is a pandemic mess with the third most one-day deaths today, after Florida and Texas, making Arkansas the worst for deaths per capita. The state has seen 134,294 cases per million residents, 6th worst in the country. Only 47% of adults have been vaccinated and the numbers, of course, are much worse in the dozen whitest and Trumpiest counties:
Searcy Co.-- Trump vote- 83.7% (28% fully vaccinated)
Scott Co.-- Trump vote- 83.4% (29% fully vaccinated)
Pike Co.-- Trump vote- 82.9% (28% fully vaccinated)
Polk Co.-- Trump vote- 82.9% (23% fully vaccinated)
Grant Co.-- Trump vote- 82.8% (32% fully vaccinated)
Cleburn Co.-- Trump vote- 81.4% (32% fully vaccinated)
Newton Co.-- Trump vote- 79.8% (23% fully vaccinated)
Boone Co.-- Trump vote- 79.8% (26% fully vaccinated)
Prairie Co.-- Trump vote- 79.7% (28% fully vaccinated)
Izard Co.-- Trump vote- 79.7% (26% fully vaccinated)
Franklin Co.-- Trump vote- 79.6% (34% fully vaccinated)
Cleveland Co.-- Trump vote- 79.6% (35% fully vaccinated)
Progressive Democrat Joshua Hicks is running for an open seat on the Jacksonville City Council. "When elected leaders across the state stood up to Ron DeSantis this week," he told me this evening, "he complained and threatened them. It won't work. Floridians are waking up to the nonsense. Enough is enough-- our objective should be about the health and safety of our school children and Floridians across the state. It should be about defeating the Delta variant and COVID-19, not about political ego or self-preservation. Ron DeSantis is a failed Governor, a bully, who only places himself first. My future opponent will be held accountable and judged on whether they support the garbage coming from the Donald Trump wing of the Republican party. We'll hold them accountable. Ron DeSantis is a mini-Trump-- we've already rejected Trump and in 2022, DeSantis will be rejected too." [In 2020 Duval County flipped from red to blue.]
Former Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson, currently running for the U.S. Senate, told us today that "Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have created a dictatorial regime in Florida, where people are literally encouraged to engage in irresponsible behavior, contract a deadly disease, and pass it on to family members to kill them, too. In the novel 1984, Orwell predicted a camera in every household. In 2021, in Florida, it’s a virus in every household. 40,000 dead in Florida already-- half a Hiroshima-- and still, DeSantis, Rubio and Scott do whatever they can to promote more disease and more death.
Dr. Cindy Banyai is running for Congress in southwest Florida, for a seat held by far right sociopath Byron Donalds. "Florida Republicans have a bad habit of talking out of both sides of their mouths," she told me this evening. "One minute they are patting themselves on the back for boosting teachers’ salaries, next they are threatening to take it away for enforcing CDC recommendations. Byron Donalds has made his anti-mask stance clear, even childishly shouting down a House colleague over it. His COVID denialism has misled many and no doubt cost lives. The lack of leadership is truly a shame as Southwest Florida hospitals see record numbers of patients, nearly all whom refuse masks and vaccines. Luckily, there are sensible and courageous leaders on the Board of the Lee County School District that put a mask mandate in place, despite the political posturing and threats from DeSantis and Donalds.
Steven Holden is running for Congress-- but in Central New York. not Florida. He's got his own local GOP crackpot to worry about, John Katko. But today Holden told me that "What's happening in Florida hits me personally due to the lack of leadership from DeSantis. My in-laws live in The Villages, Florida but return here sometimes during the summers. They are frightened to return to Florida. My father-in-law has had five bypasses and has a stint in his heart. If he contracts the Delta variant, he could die, as his immune system is quite weak. DeSantis’s buddy in Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, is taking his cues from Florida. My father wants to come to Central NY for his cancer treatments, just to stay away from Oklahoma. In my time talking to older Americans across the country, this seems to be a trend-- get out of COVID hotspots in Red States such as Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas."