The astounding increase in the number of new coronavirus cases is proof that Florida is getting outsmarted by COVID-19. So are some of our state leaders — and, as usual, so is President Trump. They’re still in denial.

For the president, it’s time to pivot away from the mixed messages that have crafted a crazy quilt of coronavirus fight plans across the nation.

On the Fourth of July, the White House announced the president will no longer be the daily voice of the coronavirus response. Instead, he’s headed to the sidelines in an effort to depoliticize the national fight against the virus and get reelected again.

This politically calculated move is simply too little, too late. Trump never should have been that daily voice. He has used the pandemic to purposely sow discord and division among us, downplaying and dismissing the virus, and assuring us that it will just “go away.” It’s a shame he didn’t step back more than 129,000 deaths ago.

Trump’s exit will be good news only if he turns the administration’s response to the long-suffering Drs. Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx and other public-health experts — and only if he stops pulling the strings of compliant state leaders such as Florida’s Gov. DeSantis.

Our hope is that it frees up Gov. DeSantis to confront the surge of coronavirus cases in the state head on, stop blaming poor people and farmworkers — essential workers — for the new cases, crack down on the maskless youth spirit that is helping drive the numbers up. He should take responsibility for closing down the state too late and reopening too soon.

We’re glad the governor has had the good sense to not go to Phase 3 of the state’s reopening. To his credit, DeSantis is setting a example by wearing masks in public. But at this point, that’s mere performance art. If he were truly alarmed about the surge in COVID-19, he would follow the lead of his Republican counterparts in Texas and Arizona. Gov. Greg Abbott last week mandated face masks in most Texas counties. The week before that, he ordered all bars closed. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered bars, clubs and gyms closed for 30 days to get a handle on the surging number of COVID-19 cases.

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On Saturday, Florida added 11,458 cases, beating a previous daily record of 10,109 by 13 percent. Miami-Dade and Broward reported new single-day highs, with 2,418 and 1,348, respectively

Of the state’s 18 deaths revealed Saturday, 12 were in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

It seems after weeks of plateauing new cases, we exhaled briefly and reopened. Now, we’re going backward, just as the nation’s head of infectious diseases, Fauci, predicted. He also has said: Anything that favors the use of masks, whether it’s giving out free masks or any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of.”

With Trump exiting the stage here, DeSantis should be his own man, step up and make wearing masks in public mandatory in Florida.



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