Governor Ron DeSantis opens many new monoclonal antibody therapy sites around his condition despite proof suggesting that COVID-19 treatments may not be effective against the new omicron variant. DeSantis might put his energy into promoting vaccines or masks, but his passion for the antibody cocktail reveals he might be more interested in his political interests – rather than, say, reducing the spread of the virus. As a daily beast reports, federal health agencies at the end of December temporarily on break distributing Regeneron and Eli Lilly treatments, two of the top three monoclonal antibody treatments, to states where omicron is the dominant strain, such as Florida. (The third product remains effective but is so rare that it is unavailable to most people hospitalized with COVID-19.)
The break was not convenient for DeSantis. The governor—who won’t even say if he got a booster shot, effectively have it both ways allowing his anti-vax supporters to believe he’s on their side…accused the Biden administration to “stand in the way of life-saving treatment for Floridians.” He required the federal government is releasing its “stranglehold” on COVID-19 therapy. DeSantis, with to help of his general surgeon Joe Lapado, ultimately got his wish, announcing last week that Florida had obtained 15,000 doses of Regeneron. “It’s like giving them a placebo,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of infectious diseases at the Medical University of Alabama, told The Daily Beast about the Regeneron and Lilly treatments. “We just assume there will be no benefit to using them.”
Perhaps the benefit of this placebo effect is for the governor himself. DeSantis false heroism on the COVID-19 front comes as the governor, who is up for re-election this year and is widely seen as a presidential hopeful in 2024, seemingly tries to perpetuate his ironclad control by targeting the voting process. He recently proposed a congressional redistricting map that blatantly favors Republicans. Democrats also denounced the map as a flagrant violation of fair district standards in the state Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. “This card dilutes the power of minority voters”, Miami lawyer Ellen Freidin, which leads the advocacy group tasked with ensuring the implementation of the Fair Districts Amendments, Recount the Miami Herald. “This reduces by 50% the number of precincts in which African Americans could elect a representative of their choice and reduces the voting power of Hispanic citizens despite the dramatic growth of the Hispanic population in Florida over the past 10 years.”
It remains to be seen whether Republican lawmakers will support DeSantis’ unprecedented map, the first a Florida governor has publicly submitted in state history, according to the Herald, and which came as a reported surprised to say Sen. Ray Rodrigues, the Republican chairing the Senate Redistribution Committee. But DeSantis, as the Republican and former Senate Speaker Tom Lee called “the 1,100-pound gorilla in state government,” according to Politics, has amassed significant power over GOP lawmakers and is apparently seeking to test it. “They’re not going to embarrass Ron DeSantis,” a current Republican lawmaker told Politico, noting that the governor is “essentially the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court right now.”
In another unprecedented move targeting the voting process, DeSantis called on the GOP-controlled legislature to invest nearly $6 million in the creation of a special police agency to “investigate, detect, apprehend and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of election laws, through the Washington Post. The Election Integrity Unit proposed by DeSantis, whose 52 employees would be stationed in “unspecified field offices throughout the state” and operate on the advice of “government officials or anyone else,” would be the first of its kind in any state, according to voting experts.
The reason an office of such scope doesn’t already exist is “because election crimes and voter fraud are simply not a problem of this magnitude,” said a voting rights attorney. Jonathan Diaz say it To post. “My number one concern is that this is going to be used as a tool to harass or intimidate civic engagement organizations and voters.” That the electoral commission – a proposal to which no legislator has subscribed, according to the To post– would ultimately be under the authority of the governor is another source of concern. civil rights lawyer Cecile Scoon likened such “frightening” interference to a governor having his “own election SWAT team.”
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