Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, DeSantis might as well have stood in the middle of I-95 with a giant welcome sign saying, “C’mon in! The water’s fine!” All while Spring Breakers came down in droves, scattering among the sandy Petri dishes up and down his state’s coastline.
At a March 18 press conference, he described precautionary measures taken by residents of The Villages, a massive 55-and up retirement community in Central Florida. “They’re playing golf, but they’re social distancing,” he said. They’re taking their own cart.” Spring Break isn’t just for people in college, you see. Let the good times and golf carts roll! Wooo-wee!
Compared to his fellow governors, DeSantis’s response has been almost carefree, especially given the vast numbers of out-of-state people funneling into Florida this time of year and the severe risks COVID-19 poses to older populations. A Tampa Bay Times analysis found that while he was among the early wave of governors to close bars and nightclubs, he was reluctant to close in-person dining at restaurants and gyms. He’s now closed public schools and banned visits to nursing homes, but unlike many other big states that have closed all non-essential services, Florida, by and large, remains open for business.