According to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Hispanic day laborers and farm workers are to blame for a sudden spike in the state’s increasing number of COVID-19 cases, which threaten to turn Florida into the nation’s epicenter for the novel coronavirus.
Florida was one of the last states to impose a stay-at-home order when the virus was first detected in the United States earlier this year, and DeSantis was also quick to reopen the state, but the Florida governor refused to say he might have played a role in the uptick of cases in the Sunshine State, telling reporters:
“The No. 1 outbreak we’ve seen is in agricultural communities.”
“Some of these guys go to work in a school bus, and they’re are all just packed there like sardines, going across Palm Beach County or some of these other places, and there’s just all these opportunities to have transmission.”
But Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said the facts simply don’t support what the governor is alleging. Fried noted that most farm workers left the state weeks ago and that the spike seen is coming in nonagricultural parts of the state.
Advocates for farm workers also slammed DeSantis, saying he had refused to provide any protections for those who work in the agricultural industry, which is a backbone of the Florida economy.
Lourdes Villanueva, the director of farmworker advocacy for Redlands Christian Migrant Association, told The Tampa Bay Times:
“From day one we asked for help for farmworkers, none came. It’s always about blaming the less fortunate and the ones that cannot defend themselves.”
On Thursday, the Florida Health Department reported that it had recorded 3,207 new cases in the state, the single largest increase since March.
DeSantis has previously tried to make light of the high number of coronavirus cases in his state, joking in April that it was “God’s waiting room” due to the fact that it has such a high number of elderly residents. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to the disease, which attacks the respiratory system of those who contract it.
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