The Omicron wave appears to have crested in Florida, but you wouldn’t know it from the acrimonious battles Florida politicians have been fighting over the pandemic. Gov. Ron DeSantis this week lashed out at Washington, and Democratic lawmakers protested the confirmation of Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who has expressed skepticism over vaccines and masks.

Few states have received as much scrutiny throughout the pandemic as Florida, where DeSantis has rejected many of the safety measures recommended by health officials while also downplaying the efficacy of vaccines. That has made him a favorite of conservatives while leading some to question whether he is doing enough to keep Floridians safe.

The moment is politically perilous for DeSantis, who is expected to seek the Republican nomination for presidency in 2024. He also faces reelection in November, and though he is expected to win easily, his opponents have not been shy about voicing their frustrations, in particular about how he has handled the Omicron surge.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a recent press conference in Miami. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“He just doesn’t care about us,” went the headline of a Miami Herald editorial published on Wednesday afternoon, after another day in which Florida seemed to serve as an all-too-perfect microcosm of how relentlessly politicized the pandemic has become.

DeSantis has spent the week charging the Biden administration with withholding monoclonal antibody treatments developed by Regeneron, despite the fact that those treatments do not work against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. That variant accounts for virtually all cases in Florida and across the United States.

Doctors affiliated with the Committee to Protect Health Care held a virtual press conference on Wednesday to denounce the governor’s singular focus on Regeneron. They noted that other, more effective treatments are available and that vaccines — whose efficacy and importance DeSantis has downplayed — are remarkably effective at preventing COVID-19 illness in the first place.”

“DeSantis lacks intellectual flexibility,” said Dr. Frederick Southwick, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Florida. “He is trying to score political points at the expense of patient care.”

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