Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday downplayed the recent spike in coronavirus cases in his state, and criticized public health officials who continue to push unvaccinated Americans to get COVID-19 shots. “It’s a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern it follows in the Sun Belt states,” DeSantis told reporters at a press conference (totally false claim). He also said that he expects COVID-19 cases to decline next month. DeSantis’s remarks came as new cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, driven by the spread of the more infectious delta variant. Florida has emerged as the epicenter of the recent surge, with about one in five new cases nationwide coming from the Sunshine State.
Despite the spike in cases, DeSantis has leaned into the same laissez faire approach to the coronavirus pandemic that has earned him praise from conservatives over the past year. His handling of the outbreak has earned him rising-star status among many Republicans, while fueling speculation of a potential 2024 presidential bid. His reelection campaign recently released a line of merchandise taking aim at Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert who has become the face of the national response to the pandemic.