On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was heavily criticized for not ordering a shutdown of his state, slammed the wild predictions of mass hospitalizations that had been promulgated about his state, asserting, “Those predictions have been false. Our work is succeeding; we have flattened the curve.”
We heard report after report saying it was just a matter of time until Florida’s hospital system was just completely overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. In fact, there was an article in March in the Miami Herald that said this week in April Florida could see 465,000 people hospitalized throughout the state of Florida. The reality: slightly more than 2,000. Those predictions have been false. Our work is succeeding; we have flattened the curve.
In fact, not only did the hospital system not get overwhelmed; since the pandemic started available hospital beds have increased in the state of Florida, not decreased. We started with about 15,400 beds available, we now have 22,000 beds available. We’ve also dramatically increased ICU bed availability, and that’s what flattening the curve was all about because if the health care system gets overwhelmed, it’s obviously bad for COVID-19 patients. It’s also bad for other people that have other ailments. And so those predictions were made time and time and time again and they were wrong.
In late March, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper sniped, “Against the urging of state and local leaders and national health professionals, Gov. Ron DeSantis has refused to order a statewide shutdown of all nonessential businesses and mandate that all residents stay at home to help prevent a wider spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.” The Democrat continued, “A Stanford University-based group, COVID ACT NOW, has a model that projects the consequences of not practicing social distancing. With limited action, Florida’s hospitals would reach an overload of over 465,000 patients by April 24, the model shows. With three months of social distancing, Florida would still see 185,000 hospitalizations by May 14. With mandatory sheltering in place, the need is reduced to 18,000 hospitalizations by July.”
The Miami Herald wrote on March 25, “In Florida alone, at least 688,000 people over the age of 18 are projected to need hospitalization from the disease, according to an analysis by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.” The next day, the Herald referenced the Stanford University projections, writing, “Three academic models created with input by epidemiologists and health experts from Stanford, Harvard and Northeastern universities predict anywhere from 450,000 to 700,000 people in Florida are likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19.”
DeSantis defended himself in March by saying, “Some people think the governor should be a dictator and order everyone to stay at home,” adding that a more diversified approach would be in order rather than a statewide shutdown, which he called a “blunt instrument” like a statewide shutdown. He stated, “You have some people who say this virus is much ado about nothing. I was never in that camp and said it was a serious public health threat. But others say I should lock everything down. Neither is right.” He added, “How can we do this fight in a way where people are not going to be locked inside their homes with no end in sight? … When you order people to shelter in place, you are consigning hundreds of thousands of people to lose their jobs. Nobody’s talking about them.”
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"Predictions have been false. Our work is succeeding. We have flattened the curve."
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) April 21, 2020