Crist and Fried, top contenders in 2022 gubernatorial race, blast Gov. DeSantis over COVID surges

By: and - July 27, 2021 6:37 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis wore a face mask during an open meeting with South Florida mayors in Miami on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, but he has not ordered a statewide mask mandate. Credit: Florida Channel screenshot

Ahead of the 2022 gubernatorial race, Florida’s top Democratic candidates are going after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over surges in COVID-19 cases.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a former Florida governor, on Tuesday blasted DeSantis over Florida’s spike in coronavirus cases, saying in an interview with MSNBC that “the governor’s playing Russian roulette with this issue.”

Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has scheduled a press conference Wednesday to discuss the surge in COVID cases.

Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, at the Florida Capitol. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel

“The Florida Department of Health suspended daily COVID-19 reporting in early June and has not resumed the daily sharing of public health information even as Florida leads the nation in new cases,” the Fried news release said. “With Delta variant concerns rising, the CDC today released updated mask guidance for…individuals who have been fully vaccinated.”

Crist, in the MSNBC interview, said: “The job of being the governor of Florida is an important job. I used to have it and it matters and it makes a difference in people’s lives. And if he (DeSantis) would simply advocate for people to wear masks and get the vaccine, he could have a major impact in making Florida healthier.”

Charlie Crist, a Democratic congressman who served as a Republican governor, is seeking to take on Gov. Ron DeSantis. Source: Screenshot/campaign video

Crist, a Democratic member of Congress and a former Republican governor, is hoping to unseat DeSantis. The Florida Congressman announced his campaign for governor in May, as previously reported by the Florida Phoenix. Fried announced her campaign in June.

New COVID-19 cases were still in the 1000s in June. By early July, the numbers began to spike. As of July 26, the daily cases are now at 12,775 — the largest number of new cases in the United States, according to CDC data.

The level of community transmission in Florida is high, as are 20 other states.

Given the data, the CDC has urged people to wear a mask indoors in areas  with “substantial” or “high” transmission to reduce further outbreaks of the highly contagious delta variant that has been sweeping the nation. Masks are recommended even if residents are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

That said, DeSantis has been against safety measures such as lockdowns or mask mandates.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democrat representing part of Miami-Dade County, urged DeSantis on Tuesday to declare a state of emergency order for Florida.

Taddeo wrote a letter to DeSantis, saying that the state “is seeing similar infection and hospitalization rates that occurred in June 2020 when we witnessed peak infection rates, intubations, and deaths.”

“In order to save lives, our hospitals need the help of the state and federal government to provide the critical resources they need.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.