Florida’s slow response: a ‘mini-Trump’ governor who borrowed the president’s playbook

Even as Covid-19 cases ballooned, Governor Ron DeSantis waited until Wednesday to order Florida residents to stay at home

In the skies above southern Florida, Ron DeSantis, the state’s governor and self-confessed Donald Trump disciple, was mulling the morning’s developments as he gazed from the airplane window. Returning to Tallahassee after visiting a coronavirus testing site in Miami and issuing a regional stay-at-home order for the state’s four southernmost counties, he was preparing notes for an upcoming press conference and doubtless thinking about the birth of his third child.

The beaches below him were not packed, as in the enduring images that will come to epitomize his lethargic response to the pandemic, but there were enough people milling about to alarm the elected leader of the only one of the “hotspot” states – those with Covid-19 cases at that stage in excess of 5,000 – not to have imposed blanket stay-at-home restrictions.

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