Florida’s governor celebrated his anti-mandate Covid laws. Now Omicron is here
Barely one month ago, Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis was on a victory lap. The state’s average rate of new Covid-19 infections was the lowest in the nation, and a lapdog legislature was about to sign into law his sweeping new coronavirus measures, including the outlawing of mask and vaccine mandates in pursuit of “striking a blow for freedom”.
There was no mention of the 61,500 Floridians who have lost their lives to the virus.
Now, with the highly transmissible Omicron variant gaining a foothold in the US and likely already present in Florida, doctors say, the robustness of the governor’s controversial steps could be about to receive a first real test.
And while health experts and DeSantis’s political opponents agree it is too soon to know exactly how the state could be affected by any spread of the variant, they are worried. The rigidity of the DeSantis anti-mandate laws, including the removal of local authorities’ power to enact community protection measures based on conditions in their own areas, they say, could allow Omicron to circulate at a faster rate than it otherwise might.