Florida is one of the first states to give the green light to open up the state's beaches, parks and other areas if done safely. Gov. Ron DeSantis is a strong supporter of President Donald Trump and has become one of the flashpoints during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, both due to their political relationship and Trump's connection to the state.
With some counties in the state opening beaches, Duval County and Jacksonville becoming one of the first on Friday afternoon, the state is playing the canary in the coal mine for the nation's strategy against the virus. While forecasts have shown positive improvement, returning to normalcy too soon can place people back into the same situation as a month ago.
And here’s Florida Governor Ron DeSantis putting on his mask... pic.twitter.com/YKLHu7nuBo— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) April 18, 2020
DeSantis is the face of Florida's push and the plan has his OK so far, but a video clip Friday has left some feeling that they've found an indicator that the grand re-opening of America, at least in Florida, may be set for disaster.
During a press appearance alongside members of the military and police, DeSantis puts on his mask, now required by some states to venture outside, and does it incorrectly. While it would be on the low-end of the gaffe scale during a normal period, it is dangerous and careless during the pandemic and during the re-opening in Florida.
"In his defense, this is very on-brand for Florida," one person wrote.
"He has degrees from Yale AND Harvard. Even ASU grads can put a mask on. I see it all the time when they deliver my pizza," another added in disbelief.
Shocking! pic.twitter.com/agUHtTNfqF— Basqueing At A Distance (@Basquerading) April 18, 2020
"So... this is the guy in charge? You're so SCREWED Florida," a third wrote with a troubling outlook.
Shortly after the beaches were officially open in Jacksonville, many took to the sand in crowds despite the orders to maintain social distancing by Mayor Lenny Curry.
"This can be the beginning of the pathway back to normal life," the mayor wrote ahead of the opening. "Please respect and follow these limitations. Stay within the guidelines for your safety, as well as for the safety of your neighbors."
Florida was initially criticized for leaving beaches open during spring break in March. Most beaches had been closed at the county level but the rest remained open until a state order. After positive forecasts for infections and deaths from the coronavirus, many felt the time was right to try to reopen.
"How long these beaches remain open is 100% up to the beachgoers," Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham said according to Fox News. “We’re looking to keep people from accumulating out here. If they want to come out and exercise, that’s great. If we have to close the beach again, we’ll do it. Safety is still our top priority."