Thankfully, President Joe Biden has experienced only mild symptoms since testing positive for COVID. But the disclosure that our country’s leader has contracted the coronavirus – an illness that has killed more than 1 million Americans and nearly 80,000 Floridians – is just the latest reminder that COVID still demands rapt attention and true vigilance.
Just consider some current facts:
- According to recent Florida Department of Health stats, 21% of Floridians who get tested for COVID are diagnosed as positive for the virus.
- A new subvariant of COVID, known as BA.5, has been gradually spreading across the country over the past few months – and it’s now been linked to rising infection rates in at least 40 states.
So just as life has a way of constantly getting in the way of, well, life, the reality that COVID remains a public health concern keeps interfering with the delusional desire of so many Floridians – including our leaders – to assume the virus has magically gone away for good.
COVID is still here, and while the widespread availability of vaccination and booster shots over the past 18 months has led to fewer infections that end in death, the virus still needs to be taken seriously.
That’s why Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration must do more to make government-authorized COVID vaccines for children more accessible for Florida families. And it’s why the governor’s administration must end its passive-aggressive policy of reassuring parents that they’re free to choose whether to vaccinate their kids – while simultaneously making public statements opposing child vaccinations, refusing to preorder the state’s share of vaccine doses and banning county health departments from administering shots.
It’s that kind of denialism over COVID’s ongoing presence in Florida that may guarantee the virus remains omnipresent in our state for the foreseeable future. That’s both foolish and dangerous, and we can only hope the president’s bout with COVID in Washington will stir some people in Tallahassee to stop pretending it no longer exists here.
– This editorial was written by Opinions Editor Roger Brown for the Herald-Tribune Editorial Board.