In reality, DeSantis has emerged as a potential contender because his approach to the pandemic kept Florida’s economy from crumbling while keeping the state’s death rate per capita far lower than most other states with large populations. The only larger state with a lower per capita death rate is California, which has had 20,000 more deaths than Florida. New York, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, and 22 others including Washington, D.C. have all seen more deaths per 100,000 residents than Florida. This doesn’t mean Florida has had the best response, but it does show that the state has kept deaths low relative to population, which is a feat considering the aging population of the Sunshine State is most vulnerable to the virus.
Now, mainstream media outlets have shifted their coverage to focus on a new smear against DeSantis, this time alleging corruption within the state’s vaccination rollout process. NBC News last Thursday published an article titled “Florida governor accused of playing politics with Covid vaccine,” criticizing DeSantis for prioritizing senior citizens, including Holocaust survivors and veterans. NBC accused DeSantis of mainly prioritizing possible Republican voters, but again, the elderly are the most vulnerable to dying from COVID-19, so it makes sense to prioritize them. As one prominent Republican Twitter user posited, “If DeSantis is only vaccinating seniors because they tend to vote Republican (per the media’s newest conspiracy), does that mean that Cuomo was only endangering their lives in nursing homes to maintain larger voting majorities?”