He was hesitant about sweeping lockdowns, given that there wasn’t much of a precedent for them. “One of the things that bothered me throughout this whole time was, I researched the 1918 pandemic, ’57, ’68, and there were some mitigation efforts done in May 1918, but never just a national-shutdown type deal,” he says. “There was really no observed experience about what the negative impacts would be on that.”

“So I was very concerned about things on that side as well,” he continues, “and I think that’s why I had a more nuanced and balanced approach than some of the other governors. Because you have some of these health officials saying, ‘You’ve got to do this. This is science,’ or whatever. But really, these were unchartered territories.”

The DeSantis team also didn’t put much stock in dire projections. “We kind of lost confidence very early on in models,” a Florida health official says. “We look at them closely, but how can you rely on something when it says you’re peaking in a week and then the next day you’ve already peaked?” Instead, “we started really focusing on just what we saw.”