Minority Office — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2021
Senate Democrats Host Reality Check on Human and Community Costs of Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and Governor Ron DeSantis remains in denial about the full toll it has and continues to take on our state, Florida Senate Democrats Wednesday evening hosted a frank discussion directly with the people of Florida about the virus’ real impacts on our communities, health care and hospitals, public schools, and the economy.
Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book was joined by Caucus leadership team members Senator Jason Pizzo and Senator Janet Cruz, community experts and other Caucus members in the online reality check about what’s really happening in Florida.
“The primary message we are hearing from state leaders is that Florida is doing great despite the fact that we are in the deadliest phase of this pandemic and the coronavirus is spreading faster here that almost anywhere else in the country,” Leader Book said. “Florida is desperately in need of leadership promoting policies that put the safety of the public and the survival of our economy at the top of the list instead of ignoring the ongoing reality, allowing COVID to spread through the state like wildfire – upending people’s lives and livelihoods.”
The Associated Press recently reported that Florida was averaging 244 coronavirus deaths per day since mid-August, up from 23 deaths a day in late June and eclipsing the previous peak of 227 deaths per day during the summer of 2020.
Though we hope to be nearing the end of our current spike, spread of new cases daily continues above peak levels seen last summer, and despite a slight drop in hospital admissions, hospitals across the state are stressed to the maximum with some turning to portable refrigerated containers as temporary morgues because of the high number of deaths.
Experts who joined the Senators to bring real-life illustrations about how the state’s anemic response to the pandemic is impacting Floridians on the ground included:
- Healthcare hero Kevin Cho Tipton, a critical care nurse practitioner serving in South Florida’s public hospitals.
- Jared Moskowitz, former director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management who spearheaded the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
- Carlee Simon, PhD, Superintendent of Alachua County Schools, one of two school districts facing sanctions by the state for requiring school children to wear a face covering for personal safety but defying Governor DeSantis’ directives and orders.
- Shirley Brown, Chair of the Sarasota County School Board, one of the other 11 Florida school districts that have approved mandatory face covering policies for protecting students, teachers and school personnel, but have not been sanctioned by the state yet.
- Ed Montanaro, PhD, a retired university professor, former state economist and Director of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research for the Florida Legislature, and chief economic advisor to former Governor Bob Graham.
- Tiffany Hubert is with the 7th + Grove Hospitality Group and restaurant, which runs a thriving minority owned and LGBTQ restaurant in Tampa’s Ybor City. She has also worked with other sports and sports entertainment establishments in the area.
- Karen Woodall, a long-time advocate on a wide range of social and economic justice issues, including unemployment, health care, housing, farmworker issues, tax and budget issues. She currently directs the Florida People's Advocacy Center and the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy.
Senate Democrats will conduct a second Facebook Live Forum on COVID-19 next Tuesday, Sept. 14th, from 2 – 3 pm covering community health issues, diversity and health disparity in the vaccination process and with COVID-19 outcomes, and the outlook on COVID-19 variants such as the virulent Delta, as well as other potential variants on the horizon.