OPINION: Gov. Ron DeSantis shows he’s not taking the pandemic seriously

As of last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Sept. 25 that Florida would fully reopen its economy and move into Phase III. With this decision and other recent occurrences, he has shown that he is not taking the pandemic seriously.

As part of entering Phase III of Florida’s reopening plan, DeSantis confirmed on Oct. 7 that sports stadiums would be allowed to open at full capacity during upcoming games. Raymond James Stadium, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and USF Bulls play home games, can seat over 65,000 people. 

Fortunately, though, the stadium is only allowing 14,000 to 16,000 fans in as well as following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) like requiring face masks and social distancing, according to a Sept. 29 article in The Oracle.

Regardless of what precautions individual stadiums may or may not take, this decision is reckless and very likely rooted in greed. It seems like DeSantis does not want to lose out on the revenue that sporting events bring to the state. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Super Bowl LIV in February brought the City of Miami upward of $400 million, according to CBS Miami. 

Now, DeSantis doesn’t want to risk losing out on the revenue Super Bowl LV in February 2021 will bring to Tampa.

Not everyone shares his urge to reopen stadiums at an unsafe level, however. ESPN spokesperson Cameron Wolfe reported that the Miami Dolphins will not be filling Hard Rock Stadium with 65,000 people at their next game on Oct. 25.

“The Dolphins didn’t ask for and don’t plan to go to 65K full capacity at games this season,” he tweeted on Oct. 7 after the news dropped. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave them clearance to do so now … but Dolphins feel more comfortable continuing their plan of hosting 13K fans right now.”

While these decisions shouldn’t be left up to the individual teams, it’s good that both Tampa and Miami have the safety of their fans in mind. Reopening close-quarter locations like football stadiums could spell disaster for the surrounding communities, especially in high-risk states like Florida.

With over 750,000 positive cases, Florida is now the third largest hot spot for the virus following Texas and California, according to the CDC.

Even the decision to move to Phase III does not make sense. According to the report from the Re-Open Florida Task Force that outlined the phases and their requirements, we shouldn’t have begun Phase III until there was no evidence of a rebound or resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Phase II.

We are currently in the middle of a rebound.

According to CBS Miami, Florida reported its highest COVID-19 numbers in two months over the weekend. 

Even if a rebound didn’t occur, the task force report states that during Phase III, large spectator sporting events should operate at a reduced capacity with comparatively fewer social distancing protocols. This directly contradicts the advice of DeSantis.

At this point, it is obvious that the governor does not have the health of his constituents in mind when it comes to making decisions that directly impact them.

The governor’s words concerning COVID-19 are constantly uninformed and ruinous. You can email his office directly at GovernorRon.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com to voice your opinion on how he has been playing politics with Floridians’ health and safety.