Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1 last year, locking down the Sunshine State for 30 days amid global panic about the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak. Sitting in his office exactly one year later, he told The Epoch Times that the lockdowns were a “huge mistake,” including in his own state.
“We wanted to mitigate the damage. Now, in hindsight, the 15 days to slow the spread and the 30—it didn’t work,” DeSantis said. “We shouldn’t have gone down that road.”
Florida’s lockdown order was notably less strict than some of the stay-at-home measures imposed in other states. Recreational activities like walking, biking, playing golf, and beachgoing were allowed, while what constituted an “essential business” was broadly defined.
“Our economy kept going,” DeSantis said. “It was much different than what you saw in some of those lockdown states.”
However, the governor now regrets issuing the order at all and is convinced that states that have carried on with lockdowns are perpetuating a destructive blunder.
After the initial 30-day lockdown in Florida lapsed, DeSantis commenced a phased reopening. He faced fierce criticism at each stage from establishment media, as well as segments of his own constituency beholden to the lockdown narrative.
The governor fully reopened Florida on Sept. 25, 2020. When cases began to rise as part of the winter surge, he didn’t reimpose any restrictions. While lockdown proponents forecasted doom and gloom, DeSantis stood his ground.
The governor’s persistence wasn’t a leap of faith. Less than two weeks after Florida’s full reopening in late September, scientists from Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford universities went public with the Great Barrington Declaration, which disavowed lockdowns as a destructive and futile mitigation measure. The declaration, which has since been signed by 13,985 medical and public health scientists, calls on public officials to adopt the focused protection approach—the exact strategy employed by DeSantis.
Despite dire predictions about the pandemic in Florida, DeSantis has been vindicated. On April 1, Florida ranked 27th among all states in deaths per capita from the CCP virus, commonly known as COVID-19.
The ranking’s significance is amplified because the Sunshine State’s population is the sixth oldest in the United States by median age. California—the lockdown state often compared to Florida due to its lower per-capita death rate—is the sixth youngest. The risk of dying from the CCP virus is highest for people over 55, with the group accounting for 93 percent of deaths nationwide.
While Florida is either performing better or relatively the same as the strict lockdown states in terms of CCP virus mortalities, the state’s economy is booming compared to the crippled economies in California and New York.
Though less quantifiable, the human suffering from the lockdown-related rise in suicides, mental health issues, postponed medical treatments, and opioid deaths is undeniably immense.
“It’s been a huge, huge mistake in terms of policy,” DeSantis said.
“All I had to do was follow the data and just be willing to go forward into the teeth of the narrative and fight the media.
“As people were beating up on me, what I said was I’d rather them beat up on me than have someone lose their job. I’d rather have them beat up on me than have kids locked out of school. I’m totally willing to take whatever heat comes our way because we’re doing the right thing.”