Is Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried Doing Ron DeSantis' Job for Him?

Joe Duncan

The battle between Nikki Fried and Ron DeSantis is just now heating up...and the election isn't until late next year
Collage of Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried and Florida Governor Ron DeSantisJoe Duncan

The Florida Governor's race appears to be heating up a year early. With the Governor's election slated for late 2022 during the midterms, Democratic challenger Nikki Fried has already begun taking political shots at the sitting Governor Ron DeSantis for what she feels is a lack of transparency surrounding the Governor's COVID-19 response.

Many Floridians agree with Ms. Fried...others, not so much.

DeSantis has had it rough lately. In recent weeks, the Miami Herald launched a story accusing DeSantis of mucking up the waters surrounding Florida's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, he's being sued right here in the State of Florida for what some allege is an attempt to cover up the real number of deaths and vaccinations in the state.

Here's what went down...

The Miami Herald dropped the bombshell that DeSantis changed the way Florida counts its COVID-19 deaths. This much is true and can't be argued with. While other states often report daily death counts, Florida only reports its deaths every three days. A quick look at the death counts in Florida shows you exactly what I'm talking about.

Data taken from the CDC can be found in a chart below that shows two ways of calculating COVID-19 deaths in Florida. This contrasts the old way, done before the changes made August 10th, with the new way, with the changes made after August 10th. As you can see, the changes make Florida's death rate look a lot better.
Florida's Death Counts Before and After August 10th ChangesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

As the Miami Herald reported:

A Miami Herald analysis published this week exposed the behind-the-scenes shift. Here’s what changed: Instead of counting each COVID death on the date it was recorded, as many states do for their daily COVID stats, the Florida Department of Health switched to a different methodology, counting each death on the date it actually occurred.
There is often a significant lag — days or weeks — between the day a person succumbs to COVID and the day the death is officially recorded as a COVID death. Charting the deaths under the new methodology can make it look as though deaths are declining even when that’s not true.

As questions about the transparency of Florida COVID-19 reporting swirl around, and as rumors plague the embattled Florida Governor, his challenger and State Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried has taken to Twitter to provide Florida with the facts.

While her Democratic challenger Charlie Crist's Twitter account has been mostly tame, Ms. Fried has taken to Twitter to keep Floridians informed at a time when they're skeptical about their own Governor's performance.

She's begun tweeting the stats and numbers daily, even though the DeSantis administration reports COVID-19 numbers every three days. This, some have suggested, is to keep the weekly average down and make the cases, hospitalizations, and deaths look lower than they really are on the charts. And since July 4th, the DeSantis Administration has taken to reporting the numbers only once per week.

The result is a chart that looks like this:

And Ms. Fried's efforts haven't gone unnoticed. She's building a following on Twitter and many are thankful that she's taken the effort to clarify what some see as the Governor's unwillingness to be clear and transparent with the COVID-19 information that Florida families might want to know.

It's no secret DeSantis wants to just put the pandemic behind him. He's said as much. And he's clearly stated that we won't return to any precautionary measures to try and stop the spread of the virus, essentially going back to business as if the pandemic wasn't even happening.

The buzz is growing around her Twitter feed as people flock to see her updates and tweets, garnering quite a bit of traffic for the underdog Agricultural Commissioner.

The question still remains, will all of this be enough? And is the Agricultural Commissioner right to try and do the Governor's job when he fails, at least according to the opinions of some? Yes, my friends and fellow Floridians, it may be early in the year prior to an election year, but the battles are already heating up.

What do you think? Do you trust Fried more or DeSantis to give you accurate COVID-19 information?

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