Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned at a Monday press conference that his state will “never do any” lockdowns associated with COVID-19 again. He made the proclamation during a series of discussions he spoke at with President Donald Trump’s newest coronavirus task force doctor Scott Atlas, who supported DeSantis and reiterated that the shutdowns have proved more harmful overall, than other efforts to mitigate the novel virus and protect the most vulnerable.
DeSantis and Atlas spoke at a series of press conferences in Tallahassee, The Villages and Tampa, addressing the state’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the need for children to return to school.
“You go back to the beginning of June, end of July, people said you have to shut down Florida, it will be exponential it will never go down,” said DeSantis, as he recalled the controversy over his decision to reopen the state.
“I looked at the life cycle of the virus and different regions of the world, different regions of the United States and I said no, if we focus on protecting those most vulnerable, if the folks, particularly at the nursing homes, if other folks take the basic precautions that we preach about avoiding some of the riskier behaviors…that we would be able to get through it minimizing the harm to society.”
DeSantis, who noted that the nightclubs and pubs are still closed, said the state will address how to reopen those businesses. He said the state gained 70,000 private-sector jobs.
“We will never do any of these lockdowns again,” he added. “And I hear people say we’ll shutdown the country and honestly I cringe because we know places that have done that and the most draconian lock down in the world has been Peru, military enforced since March, they have the highest per capita mortality in the world from COVID.”
He added, “at best what a lockdown will do is delay, but not reduce the ultimate mortality but I think Dr. Atlas would agree it creates a lot of other problems with mortality that a lot of other people don’t necessarily focus on.”
Atlas reiterated that children must return to school, stating that it is more harmful to their overall health and psychological well-being to keep them locked up in their homes out of unnecessary fear.
“We are the only country of our peer nations in the Western world who are so hysterical about reopening schools,” said Dr. Scott Atlas, who became a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in August. “We seem to be the only country willing to sacrifice our children out of fear.”
We have the data,” said Atlas. “There is extraordinarily low risk to children.”
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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”
Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.
Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.
“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”
“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”
This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”
During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.
“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”
“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”
Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.
Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.
“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.
“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”
He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.
Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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