TALLAHASSEE — From New York to Ohio to California, the nation’s governors are leading the way during the coronavirus crisis, using their offices to provide residents with consistent messages that promote public safety.
Then there’s Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A month into an international pandemic, the leader of the nation’s third-largest state has confounded with conflicting orders. DeSantis has made erroneous claims — like on Thursday when he suggested no one under the age of 25 has died from the coronavirus in the United States. He has pushed unproven medical cures while dismissing advice from health experts. He has shared wrong information, potentially affecting millions of people, that went uncorrected for hours.
Unlike other governors, DeSantis doesn’t hold regular public briefings. He has ceded the biggest decisions, like whether to close beaches, to city and county officials, yet he hasn’t talked to many of them. Early on, he clashed with federal officials over whether Florida had community spread of the virus.
DeSantis’ uneven response has made him an outlier among his counterparts across the country. The approval ratings of most governors have soared during the crisis. DeSantis, one of America’s most popular governors a few months ago, has seen his support plummet. One poll found him the third-worst rated governor at handling the coronavirus in the country.