Lazy eyes listen
by Andrew Romano, Yahoo
Which U.S. state has the lowest COVID-19 rate right now?
It’s not California, home of America’s strictest mask and vaccine requirements. Nor is it Vermont, even though 71 percent of residents there have been fully inoculated — the most in the country.
No, the state with the fewest daily COVID cases per capita is the same one that recently had more than any other: Florida.
It’s been quite the reversal. In mid-August, Florida was averaging about 25,000 new cases a day, or about 116 for every 100,000 residents. That was the worst rate in the U.S. — and one of the worst in the world. Awash in the hypercontagious Delta variant, the Sunshine State became one of the epicenters of the global pandemic.
During the past two months, however, Florida’s daily average has plummeted by more than 90 percent, to about 1,700 cases, or eight for every 100,000 residents. That’s roughly half of California’s current COVID rate and less than a quarter of Vermont’s. Hawaii (with nine cases for every 100,000 residents) is the only other state in single digits.
But don’t congratulate Florida just yet.
Like everything else about America’s COVID ordeal, the state’s declining infection numbers are being turned into political talking points. Conservatives on Twitter and Fox News now claim that Florida’s turnaround vindicates the hands-off policies of Republican Gov. (and likely 2024 presidential hopeful) Ron DeSantis, who spent his summer prohibiting local schools, businesses and governments from trying to minimize transmission by requiring masks or vaccination while emphasizing costly post-infection treatments such as monoclonal antibodies instead.
“DeSantis critics and the mainstream media remain quiet as Florida’s COVID numbers drop,” read a recent headline on Newsmax, a right-wing site.
“Well it’s official, Florida currently has the LOWEST per capita COVID cases among the contiguous 48 states,” Steven Krakauer, executive producer of “The Megyn Kelly Show,” tweeted last week. “Looking forward to the next batch of DeSantis media coverage that’s sure to be coming soon…”