Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
–Steve’s Marketplace —
They said Florida, with its large elderly population, would become as inflicted with the coronavirus as New York City. But Gov. Ron DeSantis proved them dead wrong.
Then they said Florida did not utilize strong enough lockdown measures. Again, DeSantis proved them wrong. Now they say Florida is recklessly and prematurely reopening its economy. So far, the media and other naysayers are wrong, once again. As DeSantis is prevailing for Florida.
For his adept handling of the outbreak, DeSantis should have so many accolades he could fill a trophy case. But his trophy case is practically bare. Unless you fill it up with the abounding criticism and skepticism DeSantis has received.
The cause for alarm preceding the spread of the virus was staggering. The number of forecasted cases of the virus – at one time – would overrun the beds available in Florida. They said this would cause an avalanche of untreated patients. After all, the disease preys on those over 65, the age group of one-fifth of Florida’s population.
Only problem is this scenario never even came close to unfolding. The surge of virus-inflicted patients never surged. And DeSantis is rightfully gloating over his skilled handling of the pandemic, especially for the elderly in susceptible places like nursing homes.
The reopening of Florida’s economy has come in deliberate stages. Meanwhile, nearby Georgia has gone all in with reopening its economy, providing a daring example for other states. But the virus cases are not multiplying here or in Georgia – as many projected.
However, there are now challenges to Georgia’s data. The local and national media are attacking Georgia’s recordkeeping of coronavirus patients. Headlines are blaring: “Georgia’s Covid-19 cases aren’t declining as quickly as initial data suggested they were.”
Regardless, the virus has not overrun the state of Georgia as was feared by reopening even sensitive businesses like restaurants and salons and tattoo parlors. Florida is faring equally well, despite adopting a slower pace. You will not hear or see much coverage about the promising progress of either state, as the outcome does not meet the narrative of a liberal, hair-on-fire media.
Even President Trump questioned a decision to reopen so abruptly by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. In the meantime, the media portrayed Kemp as a reckless redneck exposing his people to grave danger. Kemp is trampling the criticism right now.
Likewise, a young, inexperienced DeSantis has endured an onslaught of ridicule, especially from the likes of the Miami Herald. All the while, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is being adored for his press conferences and frank presentations.
However, New York’s handling of the virus is nothing to emulate. Sending virus-infected patients back to their nursing homes was like sending gasoline to a raging fire. The decision fed the immense outbreak in New York City.
DeSantis instead focused on protecting the vulnerable, like those in nursing homes. And not exposing other residents to the virus. Even concentrated communities of retirees – like at The Villages – have come through this nearly unscathed, as compared with similar places.
In retrospect, DeSantis and Kemp have made bold moves to reignite their economies after their shutdowns. Other states are not moving so quickly, opting instead to watch the progress of Florida and Georgia (or a lack of it, as many seem to hope).
This indecision by other governors will likely prove inferior to what DeSantis has done for Florida, or Kemp for Georgia. That is, if your true objective is to protect your people, and their livelihoods.
Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a major brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns appear regularly in newspapers in Northeast Florida and South Georgia, and on his website: www.stevenicklasmarketplace.com. He has also published a book, “All About Money,” consisting of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and at Amazon.com. He can be reached at 904-753-0236, or at [email protected].