Governor DeSantis: It’s Past Time to Change Course | Physicians for Human Rights

Governor DeSantis: It’s Past Time to Change Course

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, seated next to Mayor of Miami-Dade Carlos A. Gimenez (R), speaks during a press conference about the coronavirus held at the Pan American Hospital on July 07, 2020 in Miami, Florida
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As the United States surpasses 300,000 deaths from COVID-19, state leaders and legislators like Governor Ron DeSantis are willfully ignoring science and refusing to require the most basic protocols for helping curb the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

Take action with PHR today and tell Governor DeSantis that his inaction and disregard is literally costing lives – he must enact a state mask requirement in Florida and protect Florida’s dedicated health workers NOW. 

And while this particular Governor is certainly not alone in his anti-science rhetoric, his position and status as a leader of a state that has been incredibly hard-hit means that doing the RIGHT thing when it comes to this pandemic would make a huge difference.

Your Message
Governor DeSantis: It’s Time to Change Course
Dear Gov. DeSantis,

In view of the current devastating surge in the number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19, I write to add my support to calls made by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) for Florida and all other states to institute state-wide mask-wearing requirements and to implement needed worker protections in health care settings. These measures must safeguard workers with enforceable standards that address personal protective equipment, washing and sanitation, and transparency of information.

Of the more than 16 million coronavirus cases and 300,000 deaths nationwide, more than 1 million people in Florida have been infected by the virus and nearly 20,000 people have died. Over the past week, Florida has added more than 65,000 new cases, averaging 9,300 new positive tests for COVID-19 a day. Over the past many months, federal leadership – both in messaging and by example – has failed to support widespread mask wearing to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, the science has been clear. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a scientific brief ( that clearly states the case for the use of masks to control the community spread of the coronavirus. Recently, a controlled trial from Germany ( showed reduction in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by up to 75% and an average reduction in the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 47% after masks became mandatory compared to regions with no mask mandate. Additional evidence from Kansas ( indicates that community incidence of COVID-19 decreased in counties that implemented a mask-mandate versus those that did not.

To protect health and save the lives of everyone in your state and those in others, it is critical that this growing body of scientific evidence is acted upon by political leaders. It is a clear moral imperative for you and all of your fellow governors to meet the catastrophic rise in new coronavirus cases and deaths by instituting and vigorously supporting state-level mask-wearing requirements.

Hospitals and other health care settings across many states are again facing dramatic spikes in COVID-19 caseloads, severely straining health care systems and their capacity to respond effectively. Yet workers who risk their lives daily – including physicians, medical trainees, nurses, technicians, and other health care professionals and caregivers – still lack enforceable worker protections. These essential workers – already burned-out, exhausted, and demoralized – continue to face dangerous working conditions. They urgently need new, enforceable emergency standards for worker protections, workplace safety standards, transparency, accurate reporting, and accountability.

Attacking health workers and scientists for raising alarm about the severity of the spread of the coronavirus is patently unacceptable ( I strongly support PHR’s calls for all health workers to have access to transparent and accurate information about the coronavirus threat level and associated health impacts, both in their communities and their workplaces, and to be guaranteed that they can perform their professional duties safe from physical attacks and verbal abuse that threatens their work, safety, and well-being.

To date, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has only issued voluntary standards for worker protections in health care settings. These standards are unenforceable. Thus, it is up to state governments to set and enforce workplace protection standards for health care facilities. I join PHR and others in urging states to implement clearly defined and universally enforceable workplace safety standards to mandate the provision of PPE, clear procedures for social distancing and hygiene practices, and enhanced whistleblower protections to safeguard health workers’ ability to raise the alarm about dangerous conditions without fear of discrimination or retribution.

As the U.S. faces record levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths, it is crucial that governors act according to widely recognized scientific and public health recommendations. Without such immediate action, millions more residents in Florida and across the country will be infected and die from this disease. Even as promising vaccines begin to be delivered across the country, I implore you to act now for the sake of the lives and well-being of the population of your state and beyond.


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