OPINION: President-elect Joe Biden will have a big impact on Florida

Although Florida voted to re-elect President Donald Trump, there are many issues that President-elect Joe Biden will have a positive impact on, like adding jobs to the state and strengthening Native American relations. GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS

President-elect Joe Biden lost the popular vote to President Donald Trump in Florida, but his policies will have huge, positive impacts on the state and its residents. His administration made promises to protect the environment, tribal nations and get a better handle on the COVID-19 pandemic, all subjects important to many Floridians.

Florida has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The state’s known total number of infections rose to around 930,000 over the weekend, with close to 18,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Biden’s platform outlines a seven-point plan that details exactly how his administration plans to “beat COVID-19” once he takes office Jan. 20. The points include increasing testing rates, using the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of protective equipment like face masks and implementing mask mandates nationwide with the help of governors across the country.

The President-elect said that he plans to reverse the pandemic’s effects on the American economy through a $400 billion investment into clean-energy driven, union-friendly manufacturing jobs all across the country. For instance, Floridians can get back to work helping fight back against COVID-19 through a federal Public Health Jobs Corps that plans to enlist over 100,000 citizens across the country to help distribute supplies and produce protective gear. 

The virus is not just affecting Florida’s economy. COVID-19 has been hurting a lot of minority groups in Florida much worse than the state’s white population. Florida needs help getting through a pandemic that was undoubtedly worsened by Trump’s massive in-person rallies where he refused to wear a mask and defied city curfews that were meant to protect citizens. His Miami-area rally Nov. 1 was scheduled to end at 2 a.m., which broke the city’s midnight curfew, according to the Miami Herald.             

One of Biden’s key platform ideas is to protect Native American tribes in America from COVID-19, a group that has been hit hard during the pandemic.

Native Americans have contracted the disease at a rate 3.5 times higher than white Americans, according to the CDC, a group that Floridians know is important to the state. Over the course of his administration, Trump has undermined Native Americans in the U.S. and attempted to remove tribal lands from the federal trust, according to the vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Tom Udall.

“The truth is the White House is actively undermining tribal sovereignty across the country and mishandling a once-in-a-century pandemic that is disproportionately hurting Native communities,” Udall said in a memo released Oct. 23.

Under President Barack Obama’s administration, Biden helped strengthen American ties with its Native American communities, according to the National Congress of American Indians. Florida has two federally recognized Native American tribes residing within its borders, the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. They account for close to 70,000 of Florida’s citizens, according to a 2015 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Biden’s platform stated that his administration wants to reinstate the White House’s annual Tribal Nations Conference and nominate judges who respect tribal sovereignty and Native American laws. This means that Florida could see more representation of Native American tribes in local government and more legislation enacted that will protect their reservations and uphold Native American-U.S. treaties.

Although most Floridians voted for his opponent, Biden’s policies promise a bright future for the state. His administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will save countless Floridian lives, especially in minority groups, strengthen the dialogue between Native American tribes and the White House and boost Florida’s economy in the years to come.