Governor Ron DeSantis opens several new monoclonal antibody treatment sites around its state despite evidence to suggest that COVID-19 treatments may not be effective against the new omicron variant. DeSantis could put his energy into promoting vaccines or masks, but his passion for the antibody cocktail reveals that he may be more interested in his political interests – instead of, for example, reducing the spread of the virus. As the Daily Beast reports, in late December, federal health agencies temporarily halted the distribution of Regeneron and Eli Lilly treatments, two of the three major monoclonal antibody therapies, to states where omicron is the dominant strain, such as Florida. (The third product remains effective, but is so deficient that it is not available to most people hospitalized with COVID-19.)
The break was not comfortable for DeSantis. The governor – who will not even say whether he has received a booster shot, and in fact has it both ways by letting his anti-wax supporters believe he is on their side – accused the Biden administration of “getting in the way of life-saving treatments for Floridians. ” He demanded that the federal government release its “stranglehold” on COVID-19 therapy. DeSantis, med Help from his general surgeon Joe Lapado, finally got his wish, announcing last week that Florida had secured 15,000 doses of Regeneron. “It’s like giving them a placebo,” says Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of Infectious Disease at the University of Alabama Medicine, told the Daily Beast of the Regeneron and Lilly treatments. “We just assume there will be no benefit from using them.”
Perhaps the benefit of this placebo effect is for the governor himself. DeSantis’s false heroism on the COVID-19 front comes as the governor, who is up for election this year and largely seen as a presidential candidate in 2024, is apparently trying to maintain his iron-clad control by targeting the voting process. He recently proposed a congressional redistribution card that greatly favors Republicans. Democrats also rejected the card as a blatant violation of the state’s constitutional standards and voting rights. “This card dilutes the power of minority voters,” Miami lawyer Ellen Freidin, who leads the advocacy group tasked with ensuring that the Fair Districts changes are implemented, said Miami Herald. “It reduces the number of districts where African Americans could elect a representative of their choice by 50%, and reduces the voting power of Latin American citizens despite the dramatic growth of the Latin American population in Florida over the past 10 years.”
It remains to be seen whether Republican lawmakers will support DeSantis’ unique card, the first any Florida governor has publicly submitted in the state’s history, per. Herald, and which came as a reported surprise to the state Sen. Ray Rodrigues, the Republican who chairs the Senate Redistribution Committee. But DeSantis, as the Republican and former Senate president Tom Lee has called “the £ 1,100 gorilla in the state government”, according to Politico, has amassed considerable power over GOP lawmakers and is apparently seeking to test it. “They are not going to embarrass Ron DeSantis,” a current Republican lawmaker told Politico, noting that the governor “is essentially the Speaker of Parliament, the President of the Senate and the Supreme Court judge right now.”
In another unprecedented move aimed at the voting process, DeSantis has asked the GOP-controlled legislature to spend nearly $ 6 million in setting up a special police agency to “investigate, detect, apprehend and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of the election laws, pr Washington Post. DeSantis’ proposed electoral integrity unit, whose 52 employees would be posted to unspecified “field offices across the state” and operate on tips from “government officials or any other person,” would be the first of its kind in any state, voting experts say.
The reason an office of this magnitude does not already exist is “because electoral crimes and voter fraud are just not an issue of that magnitude,” says the suffrage lawyer. Jonathan Diaz told Post. “My main concern is that this will be used as a tool to harass or intimidate organizations and voters for civic engagement.” That the Electoral Commission – a proposal no legislators have signed, according to Post– ultimately would be under the governor’s authority is further cause for concern. Civil Rights Advocate Cecile Scoon compared such a “freezing” interference to the fact that a governor had their “own election SWAT team.”
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