CBS NEWS – COVID-19 still looms large in Florida’s gubernatorial race and helped shape Gov. Ron DeSantis’ image on the national political stage. Political analysts say DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic may have benefitted him in his reelection campaign.
In March of 2020, as the pandemic was unfolding, DeSantis joined governors across the U.S. in announcing shutdowns in the state. But the effort to keep the public safe also meant shuttering schools and squeezing people’s ability to make a living.
As frustration mounted, the pandemic response to whether or not states would follow federal guidelines appeared to fall on party lines. Some states lifted stay-at-home orders, reopened schools for in-person learning and dropped mask mandates months before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considered it wise.
“People know that Florida is a free state,” DeSantis said earlier this year as he summed up his stance. “They’re not gonna have you shut down. They’re not gonna have restrictions.”
For DeSantis, the way he handled the pandemic in Florida meant reinvention. He was seen as a national hero to some and a national target to others.
So, more than two years later, a question remains: Who was right? DeSantis or his blue state counterparts who took a more cautious approach to reopening?
“We were right and they were wrong. And millions of families in Florida are better for it,” DeSantis said during his state of the state address this year.
Dr. David Agus, a CBS News medical contributor, believes such declarations are impossible to substantiate.
“I can’t say one right, one wrong. And that’s part of the problem. It’s not a binary black/white issue,” he said.
One study tried to compare the pandemic response of different states, taking into consideration the economy, education and public health …