The state has become the new epicenter of the virus, accounting for about 20% of all new cases in the country. As the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread, DeSantis, a Republican who opposes the establishment of mask mandates or new lockdowns, has surrounded himself with health experts, including Bhattacharya, who have is pushing for a more targeted response to the epidemic.
““ We have protected the vulnerable by vaccinating the older population. “- Dr Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University,” DeSantis tweeted on Sunday, a day after the state reported 21,683 new cases on Friday, its highest single-day total during the pandemic in Classes.
Bhattacharya co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration, a document released in October that advocates protecting those most at risk and allowing others to develop immunity through natural infection, an approach its authors took called Targeted Protection.
The anti-lockdown document has been widely criticized by leading health experts and supporters of coronavirus mitigation measures around the world, with some calling it a “mass infection plan.”
In vaccinated people and young adults, the risks of a serious or fatal COVID-19 infection are much lower, but this is not guaranteed. Additionally, some of the longer-term impacts of the virus, sometimes referred to as “long-term COVID,” are still not fully understood.
Hospitalizations for the virus have increased in all age groups, with adults between the ages of 18 and 49 representing the largest increase, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A major reason why young people are becoming the largest group of newly hospitalized patients can be in part attributed to vaccination, which is higher in those over 65.
DeSantis and Bhattacharya are closely aligned when it comes to efforts to fight the virus. The two have made unified public appearances at events throughout the year to criticize mask warrants, school closings and other efforts to limit the spread of the virus.
When DeSantis recently decided to ban school districts from forcing children to wear masks, his comments to the public echoed Great Barrington’s statement. “I think the correlational evidence is mixed and there is literally no random evidence for these masks in schools,” Bhattacharya said Monday during a roundtable with the governor, an argument DeSantis later repeated as the ban was widely criticized by doctors across the state.
The rationale was at odds with the CDC’s recommendation of “universal interior masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber blamed DeSantis on Saturday for the state’s latest case spike.
“The governor made it as difficult as possible to keep people safe,” Gelber said. “He’s like the Pied Piper leading everyone off a cliff right now letting them know that they don’t have to like the CDC, that they don’t have to wear masks, that they can do whatever they want when we’re in the middle of a huge pandemic. “
News week contacted the DeSantis office for comment.