Share and Follow
Ron DeSantis has been in the presidential race for a week, and things are already getting absurd. In one of the odder moments of the campaign (so far), Donald Trump lashed out at DeSantis on Tuesday, asserting that the State of New York had a better COVID response and outcome than Florida.
He’s comparing overall deaths and noting the third most populated state had the third most COVID deaths (and more deaths than a state with a smaller population).
And he’s claiming he’s upset that it shut down too much while comparing it unfavorably to a state that shut down even… pic.twitter.com/GyUqSE6ZkL
— Frank J. Fleming (@IMAO_) May 30, 2023
The problems with Trump’s assertion are obvious to anyone knowledgeable about the COVID-19 pandemic. As stated above, Florida has a higher population than New York. Thus, one would expect the Sunshine State to have more overall deaths. That’s especially true if you believe, as most conservatives do, that mitigation measures like lockdowns and such, did little to nothing to stem the tide of COVID-19.
In other words, my view (and I believe the view of most reading this) has long been that the right thing to do regarding COVID was to not stay locked down and to ditch ineffective mask mandates, saving the economy and the minds of children. Why? Because those mitigation measures offered no ascertainable benefit. In the end, it was age and obesity levels that determined which states saw the highest death rates, not whether a state took certain mitigation measures like vaccine passports and keeping schools closed.
That brings me to the other reason Trump’s attack makes no sense. Florida is the retirement capital of the country. It is an extremely old state. The number one preexisting condition associated with COVID deaths has always been old age. No amount of lockdowns or mask-wearing was ever going to change that, and when you adjust for age, Florida has actually far outperformed New York in the realm of COVID mitigation.
Despite those facts being out in the open, Andrew Cuomo latched onto Trump’s claim. In a post, the former New York governor praised Trump for telling the “truth,” while agreeing with the former president that his state did do better than Florida.
Donald Trump tells the truth, finally.
New York got hit first and worst but New Yorkers acted responsibly. Florida’s policy of denial allowed Covid to spread and that’s why they had a very large second wave. https://t.co/dZb59fsSPu
— Andrew Cuomo (@andrewcuomo) May 30, 2023
Let me just set the record straight here. Cuomo was an awful governor of New York. He stuffed nursing homes full of COVID-positive patients, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of people that may have otherwise lived. He also kept his state locked down for the better part of two years only to end up with a death rate that tracked with the factors I explained above. He instituted a laughable, scientifically illiterate regime of vaccine passports. He kept schools closed. He shut down businesses.
There is no planet where Cuomo’s response to COVID was better than the one DeSantis instituted. By the numbers, Florida did better when it came to COVID outcomes, but you also have to take into account the economic impact and the impact on children. In those categories, Florida also bested New York by a mile.
The other thing that is obscured here by Trump’s citation of New York is that he was President of the United States when they occurred. By citing death numbers at all, he’s opening himself up to the obvious attack from the left that he was in charge of the country and setting national COVID-19 policy when those deaths happened. Again, it’s an incredibly odd attack that lacks any and all forethought. Why hand Joe Biden that kind of fodder in a possible general election matchup? I don’t understand the strategy.
Yet, the biggest issue with Trump backing Cuomo at the expense of DeSantis is that it shows he doesn’t take the suffering that happened throughout 2020 and 2021 seriously. If he’s willing to praise a guy who instituted lockdowns for two years just for a cheap, false political attack, what other basic principle is he willing to throw aside? Why wouldn’t he recommend another regime of lockdowns if he thinks it will benefit him?
Trump may end up the nominee, and I’d like to be able to vote for him with confidence that he’s going to do the right thing on policy. To be honest, I don’t have that confidence anymore. What happened with the nation’s COVID response was not a game. It was horrible, and it can never be repeated. Trump’s fluidity on the issue is not good enough.