Florida governor accused of ‘killing spree’ after extending ban on cities from imposing own mask mandates

James Crump
Florida governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Donald Trump’s make America great victory rally at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on 29 October 2020 ((EPA))
Florida governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Donald Trump’s make America great victory rally at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on 29 October 2020 ((EPA))

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been accused of overseeing a “killing spree”, after he extended a ban on cities in the state imposing their own mask mandates.

On Wednesday, Mr DeSantis extended an executive order issued in September, which prevented local governments from fining residents who refused to wear face masks, or from closing restaurants not complying with coronavirus measures.

The decision on 25 September prompted the start of the state’s third phase of pandemic measures, which allowed restaurants and bars to open at 100 per cent capacity.

Florida Democratic officials criticised the governor for the extension of the executive order on Wednesday, amid a spike in cases in the state.

Chris King, the 2018 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, quote tweeted a local news story about the decision, adding: “Alternate headline: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Continues Killing Spree.”

Miami-Dade mayor Daniella Levine Cava called the decision “deeply frustrating” in a series of tweets on Wednesday evening.

“Bipartisan governors nationwide are putting mask orders in place as one of the best tools we have to fight #COVID19.

“It’s deeply frustrating that @GovRonDeSantis continues to block local actions and make it harder for local leaders to keep our communities safe,” the mayor wrote.

Last week, a bipartisan group of Florida mayors pleaded with Mr DeSantis to allow mask mandates to be enforced in areas across the state, according to Forbes.

The governor rejected their plea..

Florida is the largest state in the US to have lifted a majority of its coronavirus restrictions and is one of only 13 that have not issued statewide mask mandates.

It has seen a spike in coronavirus cases over the last couple of months, as the number of Covid-19 infections reported in a week has tripled since Mr DeSantis lifted restrictions, according to CNN.

Last week, the state recorded 53,000 positive tests, which was three times more than the week before Mr DeSantis’ executive order in late September.

The governor has not addressed the increase in cases, and has only tweeted about Covid-19 five times since election day on 3 November.

Since the start of the pandemic, Florida has recorded more than 962,000 Covid-19 cases and at least 18,253 deaths.

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 12.7 million people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 262,266.

The Independent has contacted Mr DeSantis’ office for comment.

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