Miami, Florida — Earlier today, New Florida Majority, a grassroots racial justice and political organizing group, released the following statement from their Executive Director, Andrea Mercado, regarding the rapid and consistent rise in the coronavirus infection rate in the state of Florida:
“We have been saying for months now, Florida doesn’t need to reopen, it needs relief. Tragically, the governor and state officials did not heed our calls and we are now faced with a potentially more dangerous wave of infections in our state. It didn’t have to be this way.
“If Gov. DeSantis had gotten this right the first time, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in today. Instead of taking decisive action to ensure Floridians understood the need for safe social distancing and public health measures, the governor sought to silence dissent and deride the media reporting on his numerous failures.
“During Florida’s brief and half-hearted period of self-isolation, the governor was wholly concerned with reopening businesses, no matter the cost to public safety. We now know that crowding at bars and restaurants is one of the main drivers of the recent rise in infections. Even though the Governor tried to blame it on immigrant farmworkers and on young Floridians who had no chance but to work to feed their families.
The state of Florida still hasn’t sent unemployment checks to the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who qualified and applied for relief. And now, as the statewide moratorium on evictions is set to expire tomorrow, many of these individuals may be forced out of their homes—for no reason other than the governor’s failure to do his job.
This is unconscionable. The state of Florida must extend the moratorium on evictions, it must pay its debts to the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who were forced out of work, and it must take reasonable public safety measures to stop the continued spread of this virus. If public safety measures had the same incentive as corporate tax cuts, we’d have fewer cases than New Zealand. It’s a shame public safety measures don’t make anyone any money—they only save lives.
Earlier this year, when the coronavirus outbreak in Florida appeared to be less severe than other parts of the country, the governor demanded an apology for how unfairly he felt he’d been treated by the media. Well, governor, where’s our apology? Where’s the apology for the people who lost family members because you refused to do your job? Where’s the apology for unemployed Floridians you blamed for not getting their checks and can barely afford to make ends meet? Where’s the apology for the essential farmworkers who have put their lives at risk to feed your family and drive our economy? Where’s the apology for the families who will be cast on the street because of your apathetic, privileged worldview?
It’s time to abandon this self-righteous quest to appease your political godfather—Donald Trump—and actually do your job. Governor: cut the checks, cancel rent and mortgage payments, grant Florida the relief we deserve. DeSantis, act now!